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Minardi questions battery safety

NEWS STORY
07/02/2014

Following the opening pre-season test and the public debuts of ten of this season's cars, former team boss Gian Carlo Minardi questions the safety aspect of the new look cars.

"In comparison with 1994, the year one of the world's most gifted drivers passed away, Formula One safety regulations changed so much," says the Italian. "But how about Formula 1 safety today?

"I heard people talking about new turbo engines and reliability, but only Newey talked about safety," he continued, referring to the Red Bull designer's questioning of the new noses, introduced for reasons of safety, but which he feels could have the opposite effect.

"What I'd like to understand is whether everything is under control and I'd like to hear that from FIA," says Minardi. "Formula 1 introduced many far-reaching changes, which can turn to be dangerous. It's the case of new batteries which, in case of overheating, can set off unexpected blazes. Some led lights have been installed onto cars (red, yellow, green) so that, in case of danger, mechanics and technicians are warned and they can start working on fixing the problem.

"Drivers have been told that, in case of danger, they have to jump out of the car and avoid touching the bodywork, but, what about marshals," he wonders "Were they duly trained? I heard that team mechanics attended training courses on safety and teams can make use of self-certifications each engine constructor have drawn up for his clients. I think FIA should draw up an official register for teams and marshals.

"Some circuits host International competitions only once a year," he points out. "Are marshals well trained? Do they know how to behave? Do they know what kind of led light allows them to intervene on the car? I ask these questions on a very important matter such as work safety, as an enthusiast not a technician. I heard that circuits haven't been given any information about that as well as any official register..."

"Not to mention also shipping problems," he concludes. "In the past, batteries, which were smaller and less technologic, were shipped inside bespoke boxes, now they'll have to be put inside special boxes both in the case of air way and roadway shipping, that goes to the detriment of expense reduction."

Interestingly, Newey also questioned the safety aspect of the batteries pointing out that they are stored under the fuel tank.

"It was done on safety grounds but I'm not quite sure why putting a battery under the fuel tank is safer than putting it behind the engine but that's where we are," he said. "These batteries can suffer thermal runaway through impacts, through causes which are difficult to predict. Once they go into such a big battery pack then it's very difficult to control that fire. Frankly, put it in the pitlane and watch it burn."

Chris Balfe

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1. Posted by Paul C, 08/02/2014 13:27

"Batteries UNDER the fuel tank? It sounds like the design feature of one of the Acme Products the Coyote uses to chase the Roadrunner. I thought F1 rules were all about safety."

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