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FIA to investigate unsafe releases

NEWS STORY
11/04/2018

In the wake of a number of recent examples of unsafe release, the most high-profile being that during last weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, which saw a Ferrari mechanic seriously injured and resulted in the Italian team being fined 50,000 euros, the FIA is to launch an investigation.

Earlier in the same weekend, Kimi Raikkonen, who was involved in Sunday's incident, was unsafely released, his car stopping out on track shortly after with a loose wheel, while in the space of a couple of laps in Melbourne both Haas drivers were eliminated from the race as a result of loose wheels, the second incident bringing about the Virtual Safety Car period that saw Sebastian Vettel use to his advantage.

With these four incidents in the space of a couple of weeks, and that of Ferrari mechanic Francesco Cigarini making it on to the front pages of the world's media, F1's governing body is to act.

"It's looking like less and less like a coincidence but the two incidences in Melbourne were quite clearly wheelgun operator error," the FIA's race director Charlie Whiting told the official F1 website. "They cross threaded the nuts and thought it was tight, came off and then realised a little too late it wasn't.

"In Bahrain, the guy hadn't even taken the wheel off, which is slightly perplexing," he added.

"Alonso lost a wheel in testing if you remember we went through it all with McLaren, they gave us a report in the week," he continued, referring to an incident in Barcelona earlier this year. "We discussed it with the Technical Working Group to understand it all, to make sure everybody else realises these things can happen, everyone tries to learn from them.

"What happened was that the design of the nose piece that goes into the axle, that is the thing that holds the two-stage retention mechanism. But the way that is fixed into the axle was not quite strong enough so the wheel was a little bit loose, it worked itself loose because it had done four laps prior to that.

"So when the wheel started to tip a little bit, it put abnormal loads into the things that were holding the nose in and once the nose came out, there was no retention. So a lesson to be learnt there - that was shared with everyone in the Technical Working Group so that they can all look at that and make sure their designs aren't similar.

"Of course they said ours won't do that..."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by elsiebc, 12/04/2018 14:16

"They should follow the lead of that awesome series that will surely overtake F1 as the pinnacle, Formula E, and have a second car set and ready to go that the driver switches to. Either that or they could stop the race at the halfway point so that everybody can service their cars. There should be no set time for the stoppage so as not to rush the teams but rather wait until everybody is ready."

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2. Posted by FormerF1Fan, 12/04/2018 6:30

"How about putting condom machines in the pits? "

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3. Posted by nonickname, 12/04/2018 6:08

"A thought for the day. Ban Marquez OR put halo's on MotoGP :)"

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4. Posted by Joop deBruin, 12/04/2018 1:36

"Nedyr, just think of the electrons you killed with that rant."

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5. Posted by Nedyr, 11/04/2018 23:21

" It's a tricky one, eh? Problem is, the perceived DNA is that it is, by nature, an extreme sport. Look at how upset people have been by the Halo, for instance. 'If it saves one life'-type stances up against 'Motorsport Is Dangerous - says so on the ticket'-type stances... If there were no racing, no-one would get hurt, but racers wanna race and fans wanna see that, so what's an acceptable level of risk? A racing guy might be prepared to accept all sorts of levels of risk, but what about (let's say) his family, who rely on him for things not related to racing? And make no mistake, there will be many folks at Ferrari who thought they'd got their system down who are absolutely horrified that they didn't spot the potential flaw that resulted in this 'perfect storm' incident. That's tough to deal with, and I'll bet there's a few folks struggling to rationalise that right now. So, what are we left with? Ban pit stops? Might work, but there were problems with it last time it happened, and isn't there a level where a heavily-worn tire is potentially dangerous? Minimum pit stop time? Against the DNA again, who wants to watch a car sitting stationary when milliseconds count? Fewer pit crew? I like this idea, but fewer guys = more work in less time, greater chance of error... The fans seem to want more unpredictability, and let's face it, who saw THAT coming? If you want motorsport that's so safe, it's almost silly, there's always Formula E. But even there, if it all went wrong, someone could lose their life. So if it saves just one life, stop racing It's a pretty impossible situation to balance, I think. F1 in the 21st century requires all sorts of relevance to, for instance, road cars and other tech in order to generate the extreme budgets required just to get into the race. It stopped being about heroes risking everything a while back... They are still there and the risks are still huge, but hidden under so many layers of marketing nonsense that it's hard to spot them. Safety is, of course, paramount. No-one should have to lose their life for playing sport, but still there is a place in popular culture for boxing, where the explicit objective is to incapacitate your opponent with blows to the head - how does THAT fit into 21st century sport and culture while keeping a straight face? I'm so sorry Mr Cigarini got hurt and wish him a speedy recovery, but he's a racer, too... I hope he gets a chance to talk more about his view on all of this. Our sport may be a little messed up, but for all its' flaws, I still love it.... Sorry for ranting, everyone, but it's been an odd day."

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6. Posted by ESTM PRFT, 11/04/2018 21:54

"If the FIA is going to have a knee-jerk reaction by changing the wrong rules, it will be an M.O. like reorganization: It appears as progress while accomplishing nothing."

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7. Posted by GrahamG, 11/04/2018 20:22

"Eliminate the nonsense of unsuitable tyres, let everyone choose whatever tyres they want and as suggested below impose a minimum pit stop time (stationary) of say 10 seconds with only two people allowed to work on the car. "

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8. Posted by Ro, 11/04/2018 19:01

"Here we go again! The FIA should be banning the huge number in the pit crews. "

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9. Posted by nonickname, 11/04/2018 17:50

"Another easy solution.. make the pit stop a mandatory 3.5 seconds and have a lollipop man to dispatch the cars. Who cares about 2 second pit stops anyway. Just more bxxllsxxit"

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