Red Bull’s flying wheel caused by wheel gun?

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I was reading, with interest, the recent story James Allen posted on his site about the changes to Red Bull’s pit stop procedure. Apparently a wheel gun caused the entire incident according to the team. Here is what James said about a report the team sent to the FIA explaining the incident:

The report, which was sent to governing body the FIA and the 10 other teams on the grid, revealed that Webber’s car was released prematurely because a “go” signal was sent accidentally by the right rear wheel man.

The right rear nut cross-threaded as the wheel went on. When the mechanic removed the nut to put another on, his wheel gun slipped in his hand and accidentally depressed a trigger that sent the “go” signal to the man on the front jack.

As a result, the car was cleared to leave the pits even though the rear wheel was not attached. The team said they would revise the wheel gun’s design to ensure the “go” signal could not be sent by accident.

I had no idea that a wheel gun’s trigger was part of an elaborate “Go” button system that signal a safe launch state for the car and if that’s the case, it’s a bit dodgy considering anyone can pull a trigger for a host of reasons. It used to be a simple notion of each wheel mechanic raising his hand when his work was completed to his satisfaction but I guess we’ve evolved from such quaint actions.

In essence, Red Bull says they will change this process so this doesn’t happen again. I’ve seen this several times over the years and I’d be surprised if it doesn’t happen again…hopefully not.

Have you had experience with any of the systems similar to this? Read anything that describes the wheel gun and release procedures of the teams? It’s an interesting issue and I recall the problems Ferrari faced when they first tried using their light gantry to release the cars…Massa dragged the entire fuel rig down the Singapore pitlane in 2008 because of a technology “issue”. Regardless, it’s always best when you can blame an inanimate object for personal injury…damn wheel gun!!


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