From the Singapore Grand Prix onwards dual wheel retention systems will become mandatory for all teams currently competing in Formula One.
This change is but one of a number of safety measures introduced in response to an incident at this year’s German Grand Prix, when a FOM cameraman was struck in the pitlane by an errant wheel from Mark Webber’s Red Bull, which had not been fully-fitted during his pitstop.
While Article 14.7 of the technical regulations already makes wheel retention systems a requirement for all of the teams, until now there has been no clear proviso for the design of these systems.
Article 14.7 reads: “All cars, whilst under their own power, must be fitted with devices which will retain the wheel fastener in the event of it coming loose.”
Following extensive research carried out by the FIA in the wake of the Nurburgring incident, it was found that the current single retention systems would only be effective when a wheel came loose from a fully-fitted position.
Next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix will be the final race where single wheel retention systems will be permitted by the FIA, with dual stage wheel retention systems mandatory for Singapore and beyond.
The dual stage retention system is expected to be effective at securing a tyre in both situations, if it has been fully-fitted, or if like at the Nurburgring, it has not been fitted correctly.
McLaren were just one of several teams that trialled their new dual stage retention system on Friday of the Belgian Grand Prix, a process which Sam Michael, the team’s Sporting Director explained would likely be repeated at Monza.
“We tried it on the car on Friday [in Belgium] and we will probably put it on the car for Friday at Monza as well.
“It is a little bit different and, when you are operating with pitstops around two seconds in length, the most marginal things can make a big difference.
“Just a tiny change to the design can really disturb the mechanics and their whole routine.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic