After the accident during the German Grand Prix, the FIA have announced that with immediate action anyone other than track marshals, or team personnel are to be banned from the pit lane. Paul Allen the FOM camera man is currently suffering from concussion as well as broken ribs and a broken collar bone from the loose tyre that came from Mark Webber’s car. The FIA is going to reduce pit lane speed limits and also make it mandatory to wear helmets for team members involved in the pit stops. In the statement, it said the pit lane speed limit will be reduced from 100km/h to 80km/h, except in Australia, Monaco and Singapore, where it will be 60km/h.
The problem is not due to the pit lane speeds, nor will it make any difference when people in the pit lane are forced to wear helmets. The problem lies within the pit stop procedure. Each time a driver comes into change tyres, the pit crew are under immense pressure to take as little time as they can – pressure and stress lead to mistakes, and mistakes are what caused the incident last weekend.
Reports are saying that the traffic light system was at fault, [mechanics press a button when their tyre is fitted and a light goes green when all four buttons have been pressed] when the light went green even though 3 of the 4 had been done. Which takes me to the fact that you can not or should not rely on electronic technology, which is a shame because that’s how Formula 1 is developing. I would bring back the lollipop man, who is a much more reliable source than something running off wires.
The next suggestion is to not change pit lane speeds, but instead make it mandatory to say have a 5 second pit stop. This puts the team at a lower stress level, therefore harder for them to make simple mistakes. Mechanics were frantically waving that the wheel was not on, and in my previous suggestion, the lollipop man probably would have seen that. Why do you think there are rarely any accidents like a loose wheel during the other formula’s? Because they aren’t in such a rush.
The amount of people doing the pit stops is frustrating too, had there not been so many people, maybe the front jack man would have seen the rear tyre and not let the car down. It takes 20 people to take part in a pit stop (3 people on each wheel, 2 jack’s, 2 spare jack’s, 2 car steadies and two watchers) but if a front wing needs changing, that”s another handful of people undergoing one stop. That’s ridiculous, and could have a set number.
The injuries sustained by Paul Allen could be a lot worse, but that’s not the point. The point is that safety needs to change, and taking the camera men out of the pit lane won’t reduce those types of accidents, it just reduces excess people.