A pit stop can be the vital key to winning or losing, gaining a position on track or falling back a few spaces. Over the years, pit stops have evolved from lengthy affairs spent knocking spinners off wheels with a mallet to today’s 1.9s miracles.
During the refueling era, the possibility of flash-frying everyone around the car was a possibility and it happened a few times in Formula 1. If the fuel didn’t ignite and catch everything on fire in the pit box, you had Felipe Massa leaving too early, ripping the refueling hose off the pump and dragging it down the pit lane.
Improperly secured wheels also became a major issue regarding safety as Mark Webber’s loose wheel flew down the pit lane clouting an unsuspecting cameraman with serious injuries resulting. The over-shot of a pit box has seen its share of injured mechanics who have tangled with the nose of an F1 car on many occasions.
Sunday’s leg-breaking performance at Ferrari during the Bahrain Grand Prix was another reminder of how critical and dangerous a pit stop can be and unlike the past, the social media mobocracy in full swing have gotten their teeth into Sunday’s gross injustice and started offering a myriad of solutions all intent on erasing the possibility of ever seeing an injured mechanic again.
The most frequent solutions the F1 press and couch pilots have been suggesting and parroting has been a mandatory time for each pit stop. An established time ambiguously derived that would always ensure that no mechanic would ever be injured again due to a rush or hasty error. I’ve seen anywhere from 5s to 15s suggested…don’t ask me who did the calculations and arrived at these times but I suspect they were pulled from deep within a colon somewhere.
In the past, the lollipop man would lift the sign when it was safe for the driver to exit the pit box and even then there were errors. Lightning fast stops led to human anticipation and timing your sign-lift to the fraction of a second a wheelman’s arm goes up can lead to miscues and errors. There became a rhythm and internal clock that the manual process gained. Almost a muscle memory rhythm and if any wheel wasn’t secured, the rhythm would happen and the car was released improperly. This prompted the light gantry found lumbering over the heads of drivers and an automated system tied to the wheel guns for split-second accuracy. This failed on Sunday and Ferrari have launched an investigation as to why.
Up until this point, there was a throng of F1 fans calling for more complex pit stops and re-introducing refueling to spice up the show. The human injury is now a blunt object in which to suggest that any notion of more complex, random pit stop possibilities should bring shame to anyone even contemplating it.
The mobocracy is now engaged in mind vomit with solutions from banning pit stops completely to making them 15s long for everyone—this has a real issue as any team who has drilled perfection in their pit stops will never gain a second on the track due to their hard work.
It is times like these that the FIA can sometimes overreact and while no one wanted Francesco injured on Sunday, it would behoove the FIA to be measured in its approach to pit stops. There is an elegance, brilliance and tactical elevation to the sport that pit stops provide. Pirelli’s new tires for 2018 are supposed to promote even more pit stops and now the mobocracy is castigating the pit stop as something that has got to go!
The lowest hanging fruit, to me, is the number of people servicing an F1 car. Reduce that number to one mechanic per wheel and as one of our readers suggested, a manual confirm button on their wheel gun and that may be enough to solve the concern the outrage mob has.
That’s easier said than done, however, and it could have a knock-on effect too. If you don’t need three people per wheel, would it have any impact on the number of people employed by an F1 team? Could this change cost people their livelihoods?
Cause and effect has to be considered instead of the FIA’s penchant for pragmatism over prudence. Pit stops are an element that is one of the last remaining random tactical impacts to a race so they have to be very careful not to overreact or usher in some half-baked solution to appease the outrage mob. Let’s calm down, let Ferrari determine the reason for the error and see what can be learned from it before we throw away one of the last tactical elements of the sport.
Maybe this is the answer (http://new.abb.com/products/robotics/industrial-robots/yumi). That or concrete barricades. Ok, I’m joking… I do think the pit stops are fine as is, accidents occur and we must learn from them after a proper investigation is performed. How a green light was given when a wheel hadn’t even been changed is a big WTF moment and I’m sure Ferrari and the FIA will get to the root cause. What I think is needed is a more severe penalty system. Other series with much lower budgets, of even the lowest budget F1 team, put out higher fines than F1 does. There… Read more »
oh, and I should add… How in the world is the pit lane allowed to be open when you have an injured mechanic on the ground and immovable (or at least he wasn’t moved). Seems like giving Murphy’s Law too much of a chance to rear its ugly head…
SUB. Hope you come back and read, as credit is were credit is due. two days too late of me, so Apologizes for the lateness. Your “why the pit lane wasn’t closed” is not only a good and valid point but a pointing to a big and gross safety infringement by non-other than the FIA safety delegate himself.
SUB. I disagree with your reasoning advocating higher fines. the team with a budged-up tyre change pays the ultimate prize by having the car in question eliminated, higher fines will not and cannot eliminate such things.
Sunny, I’m not advocating higher fines, actually opposite. I’d like to see something that hurts. I dont know what that answer is, but like I said, it’s not 50k. 50k is a rounding error on a race weekend.
Edit: if a flubbed stop eliminates a competitor than maybe that is sufficient, but if it doesn’t what is the penalty. Point being that the teams need to feel that if they do not do a safe release then it will end badly for them and possibly have them realize that taking a few extra tenths is a better play.
A “flubbed” tyre stop always eliminates a car and that is the ultimate prize a team can pay, and that ultimate prize is the one that hurts the most. Unsafe release cannot be eleminated, reduced by perfecting and foolprofing the sytem can reduce it. only eleminating pit stops can eleminate unsafe release, but pit stops cannot be eleminated. they are part of the race,
I agree with Sunny, that for any team the real penalty is that the car dnf’s, and in this case that a member of the team is seriously injured.
So a fine is really not a necessary ‘punishment’, and the incentives to get it right are really strong.
I agree if there is a DNF, but I’m thinking an unsafe release in which a team can recover from would have no penalty (or currently insufficient). What if the tyre change had occurred and the wheelman still gets hit because he hasn’t retreated out fo the way and is injured, is 50K enough of a penalty for an unsafe release? If not, what should the penalty be… and it doesn’t have to be monetary.
Maybe the penalties should be in line with those for Health and safety at work legislation. Those are pretty draconian.
In NZ an individual can be imprisoned for up to 3years AND fined $300k for a recklessly exposing an employee to risk of death or serious injury. A company can be fined up to $3m.
I’m not sure if or how workplace HS legislation is applied in F1, but if it is the FIA wouldn’t need to impose any fines or sanctions, as the HS prosecution would override that.
Great link SubC, I could imagine that robotic wheel changing could done, it would be fantastic marketing for a company like ABB, and inherently safer. It would be an incredible technical challenge to make a system that could change wheels faster than a team of mechanics, who (normally) do better at dealing with variabilities, like the car stopping out of position, having to replace a nose cone, working around damaged bodywork, or removing a flat tyre/damaged wheel. So probably too expensive and complicated as an immediate solution, but I’ll bet the teams have all looked at it and one day,… Read more »
Jako, don’t take this as advocating for replacing humans with robots, but they have really come a long way in a few years. The video below from 2013 while constrained to a 2D environment could easily be adapted to a 3D environment. But as we have seen in Bahrain and as you say, if things don’t go as programed disaster can strike. The computer is a stickler for logic and doesn’t care at all about what it hasn’t been told to consider. But I think locating a lug nut in a 1 meter cube area, to allow for randomness of… Read more »
That air hockey robot is impressive, to react that quickly and accurately takes some processing.
With no constraints in F1, if a robot system were more reliable and as fast or faster than humans, humans would be out and robots in the time it takes to do a tyre change. Especially if the robot system could also deal with the random situations like the nose cone or flat tyre /damaged wheel.
And that may come, even under a budget cap scenario, as the price of robot systems come down.
“….I suspect that were pulled from a deep within a colon somewhere.” best bit of commentary EVER
Agree, best bit of commentary EVER by NC. INTERNAL BLEEDING, FOR SURE.
Usually when accidents happen the knee-jerk reaction is to blame somebody with the word “alleged” attached. Putting aside your provenance of the colon for suggestions, may I suggest that the device indicating a ready car was a fault (it saw 4 wheels attached even though one had never come off). If that device had registered “wheels off… wheels on” this would not have happened.
Wax on, wax off anyone?
Yes PETER, “If the set up registered wheels off…wheels on this would not have happened. the problem this time the green light was given the driver when not even all four wheels were off. I personally not only have no doubt that FERRARI will trace and rectify the fault, but am 100 percent sure that the fault lays with the wheel gun man.
The Ferrari report into the incident places no blame on the wheel gun operator. Perhaps you should let them know they are wrong ?
“The FERRARI report” We are hurt, one of our man got hurt, why hurt another man?. Seems like I have to repeat the procedures (how it works) again. This time I will start from the driver action and moves backwards. The driver is electronically given the green lights to move of by the jacks being dropped. The jacks are dropped electronically when the four (4) gunman “manually” pushes the “wheel done” button on the gun. From what we have seen with our own eyes:- The car came into the pit box. jacks are engaged. before jacks have started rising the… Read more »
What is you source of information that the wheel gun man manually pushes the ‘wheel done’ button, when the Ferrari report indicates that it is counting the number of engagements of the wheel gun to the wheel?
Is it possible that the team know more about how their system operates than you do?
DAVE. For an old formula 1 follower geezer like me your attitude in conversation with my likes is fully understandable. As are the press releases puts out by qualified to do so F1 team members, more so when they starts involving sensors to justify what they are trying to push out. Incidentally such things in the majority of cases reinforces my formed opinion in no small way. Will repeat if for nothing to the benefit of those following the conversation. The modern one make universally used wheel gun in F1 is configured as follows. Have a directional of rotation selector… Read more »
So you don’t have any source of the information that you are 100% sure it was the wheel gun operator’s fault.
Although you appear to have changed your mind about what he did. Yesterday you were convinced that he was tightening the wheel nut instead of loosening it. Today you are convinced that he signalled that the wheel change was complete, despite knowing that he had yet to even remove the wheel.
If you have any evidence of this then please share it. At the moment, you are just repeating your assertion that you are right and Ferrari are wrong.
Yes, I’d like to see the actually link to data explaining how the wheelgun is manually triggered and the wheelman presses that. I’ve not see any detail of those guns so that would be good to see if you have it.
Its a little dated, but some details are still relevant for today. I would like to also see some definitive answer to how the light system works today. I wouldn’t think its a big secret since the FIA have said when they encounter a problem they go to all the teams to ensure lessons learned are applied up and down the pit lane.
Paoli state that they supply all F1 teams with wheel guns. Their catalogue:
quotes at least six of their guns that are being used within Formula 1, so there are detail differences in the operation of these items. It doesn’t say which model is being used by which team.
Three was a time where NASCAR had an official observe the pit stop. I remember one time when he spotted a loose wheel lugnut and signaled for someone to come back and tighten it. He wouldn’t release the car until it was secure. Was it a pain? Sure, but I’ve seen the alternatives since they got rid of that official and it’s a mess. Maybe the FIA should hire marshals to observe the pit stop (if it can be done safely).
“The mobocracy is now engaged in mind vomit with solutions from banning pit stops completely to making them 15s long for everyone—this has a real issue as any team who has drilled perfection in their pit stops will never gain a second on the track due to their hard work.” I made the observation when I watched the replay of the Indy Car race at St. Petersburg (Trying to get back into it), that it was so nice seeing a longer pitstop (still only ~7 secs) with only a minimum of people. So, I made that observation well before the… Read more »
Getting F1 series down to INDYCAR level will be the time when it will not be F1 any more. I watch and follow both as they are both motor racing, but I regard F1 as the pinnacle of open wheel motor racing.
Indy Car is doing some things right. I think the way they do their pit stops (refueling or not) is right. I think the changes they made to promote passing is right. We’ll see if their windshield ends up being the better way forward. Being too proud (talking F1/FIA here) to recognize where other series are doing a better job will be F1’s downfall.
Doing a better job here and there in Indycar out to be recognized, but that will not make Indycar the pinnacle of open wheel motor racing. that is until the new commercial rights owner manages to take F1 completely down that route.
OK? Who is arguing that? My post and this article is about the pitstops. That was what my original comment was about. Personally, I’m not a safety nazi. I think the HALO is a ridiculous answer to a question not very many asked. I’m not part of the mobocracy, so my POV isn’t coming from a safety perspective although I did point out that where the guy was standing was dangerous (and it obviously is). I just think it is much more entertaining the way the Indy Cars guys do it (something I noticed weeks BEFORE the Ferrari incident). The… Read more »
Michael, it wouldn’t be unheard of in a F1 Championship race to have fewer pit crew…
“Just 67sec after he stopped”! Stops were lightening fast in the 50s.
I wonder how they calibrated the torque on that hammer?
It was probably a proto-Haas team, because AFTER the fuel is in and wheels are on, someone remembers to clean the windscreen. Not enough practice guys!
That’s great! Very entertaining. There is another one out there showing them through the intervening decades. F1 pit stops now…your eyes barely get a chance to focus and grasp the scene in front of you before they are gone. Amazing? Yes. Entertaining? For me? no. Just about everything about F1 today can be described in that way. Amazing? Yes. Entertaining? Barring the first few laps, for me? no. IMO, nothing wrong with mixing it up in the pits. Think about it, there is only so fast it can get. They have pretty much reached that point. It’s not that other… Read more »
The Bahrain FERRARI #7 botched-up pit stop was strange indeed, could be one of a kind, maybe others can, but I cannot remember a car being send off with only three wheel having been changed. And believe me, I have seen a hell of a lot of different kinds of pit stop mishaps. From different tyres/wheels being fitted, stuck wheels difficult to remove, galled nut threads resulting in nut couldn’t come off (remember seeing a Williams mechanic trying frantically to cut open the nut with chisel and hammer while Patrick Head looking on like a true hungry British bulldog ready… Read more »
This was interesting…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCFu55FAdlE
Misleading information even in only some of the details that makes-up the story is very bad indeed because it can lead to a different picture to what really happened. I will repeat the following:- Both rear and front jacks drops the car automatically by the 4th corner wheel gun signal by GUN OPERATOR. which means the car is not dropped by the front and rear jack men. Wheel nut torque is recorded but cannot be acted upon during the pit stop, and have nothing to do with dropping the car or not. Cross threads when threading-on wheel nut can only… Read more »
Have left out. re the comment that the left rear wheel remover man is the only one of the lot standing in front of the wheel. The four wheel removal men are the first to get out of harms way before the wheel change operation is finished and before the car jacks drops the car.
As well as the ‘mobocracy’ calling for change, I’m sure that Liberty Media will be all over the FIA and Ferrari – having 400 million viewers seeing a mechanic run over and injured isn’t good for ‘the show’. And I’d expect this will be a Health and Safety in the workplace nightmare for Ferrari. Who knows to what extent the Bahraini H&S authorities will get involved, but its very likely that Ferrari will be getting a visit from the Italian authorities when they get home. So there are likey a number of pressures that could lead to rapid, possibly ‘knee… Read more »
Does anyone know if Haas bought the wheel nut design from Ferrari as part of their non listed parts? Is it just a coincidence that the two teams having wheel nut issues in the first two races may be sharing a common design? The Haas failures appear to be due to the wheel nuts cross threading. If the Ferrari was cross threaded when fitted on the grid it is possible that this contributed to the difficulty in removing the wheel at the pit stop. However, with the team refusing to communicate with the press, I wonder whether we will ever… Read more »
I do not know if HAAS uses the FERRARI wheel nut or not. but what I know is that HAAS is said to machine/produce their own wheel rim. also that a wheel nut is only removed once (only used once). On the other hand if as was reported HAAS uses the FERRARI suspension, of which at least at the rear it must be, because HAAS uses the FERRARI “POWER TRAIN”, than even if HAAS machines/produce their own wheel nut it would have to be to FERRARI specification. I am saying this because the wheel nut will have to match the… Read more »
while a coarser thread may reduce the possibility of cross threading, it is certainly still possible. After all it happened 25% of the time to Haas in the Australian Grand Prix.
Yes of course that cross threading possibility is still possible, me thinks will always be. but do please re-visit and read the last part of my last post as to how and why cross threading is possible.
will be back this afternoon and give some more information as to the designs,systems the how and why of the F1 car wheels subject which might be of interest to some following the subject at hand.
As promised, some more technical information as to the design and function related to parts in connection to F1 wheel mounting, retaining , loads of drive and braking transfers and take-up that might be of interest to some following this subject. Stub axle (wheel spindle) rotates in 2 bearings inside the upright and retained by a nut at the back side of the upright. Big bearing on the outside and small bearing on the inside of the upright. It is machined out of a solid. 2 flanges are machined on it, one for brake disc mounting and one for wheel… Read more »
Continued:- The wheel nut retaining outward spring loaded from the wheel spindle safety pegs (3 used by FERRARI) are angled inwards, as such first they help center the wheel when the wheel is being installed by protruding against the wheel rim tunnel, and when the wheel nut goes over and past them because they are angled inwards and after the nut has being torqued-up, they will spring back out and butt against the outer face of the nut once the wheel gun socket which is also designed to push them in is removed. The wheel gun:- modern wheel guns are… Read more »
Hi Sunny, thanks for your constant efforts to bring a bit of engineering rigour to these discussions. It takes a bit more effort to read and digest (hence the delay in responding) But I find it well worth the effort, as it is building my understanding of the technical aspects of F1. Do you have any links to any illustrations of the wheel systems, as some of the description is a bit hard to envisage if you aren’t familiar with race car components. That said, I think I now have a much better grasp of how the wheel attachment system… Read more »
The wheel retention system is covered by section 14.7 of the Technical Regulations: 14.7.1 All cars, whilst under their own power, must be fitted with dual stage devices which will retain the wheel fastener in the event of it coming loose from both its full fitted position and from any angular position before the fastener begins to engage on the axle thread. 14.7.2 Each team must provide test results which demonstrate that all dual stage devices must be able to: a) Withstand 15kN of axial tensile force exerted on the wheel nut in a direction away from the car centre… Read more »
I’m trying to understand how in the process cross threading can occur. If I’ve understood (extrapolated) the comments from Sunny and Dave correctly, the reasons for a cross thread are 1) the wheel would have to be not flush to the flange, or 2) the retained nut not square to the wheel. 3) the wheel gun not aligned to the wheel 4) the wheel gun alters the angle of the retained nut. Or a combination of these factors. As the retained nut is pre installed in the wheel, it seems to me that the critical bits are the seating of… Read more »
Apologizes for coming back to this page very late, I didn’t bother too because I believed that things were explained in the most simple way possible, I only dropped back because at the moment there is nothing new to read. Apart from a new super speculation being pushed out in an attempt to influence some poor minds. Jako. Your support/efforts recognition and compliment are greatly appreciated. You should rest assured that some difficulties/short comings on one or both sides in conversation is a normal occurrence even when in the same mother tongue let alone when not, the needed link is… Read more »
I now can see by newer as per date posted posts on this page that some people involved in this discussion while oozing total and automatic negativity to all information I contributed and all technical points I forwarded have been caught not only bare of any basic technical knowledge but totally uninformed and not up to-date on the subject they came blubbing about to the extent that they had to scramble and run seeking links and technical information to come back with, now it’s my turn, just in case they missed-it to recommend just one and final link to them.… Read more »
My link should have read “BBC SPORTS ANDREW BENSON 15 APRIL 2018 (Ferrari did not break rule in lead up to pit stop).
I must say sunny, since this is my favorite F1 site and seeing what your are quit deliberatley doing to it. You have single handedly made most topics negative and childish (“came blubbing”, “scramble and run seeking links”, “now it’s my turn”). Kudos! You seem to want everyone to kneel down kiss your ring as a sign of respect. Thats not respect, thats fear and you’ve picked the wrong group to do that to. I wish you would stop, but I fear that is not your motive. I don’t remember reading on this site anywhere where anyone thought Ferrari were… Read more »
SUB, I strongly object to your grossly unjust accusations.