Formula One race director Charlie Whiting believes that introducing a minimum time for pit stops would be a bad idea, even if it would improve safety standards in the pitlane. Concerns about the safety in the pitlane after the German Grand Prix were raised after a FOM cameraman was struck by a loose wheel.
Whiting, who was speaking at the 16th annual Sid Watkins Lecture on motorsport safety in Birmingham, confirmed that there had been talks of introducing a minimum pitstop time, but was unlikely to happen.
“It’s been discussed but it’s not something that’s likely to happen, definitely not,” Whiting said. “I think that would be a bad move and I don’t think it would achieve anything. I think obviously the incident with Mark Webber’s wheel in the Nurburgring started quite a lot of discussion.
“It’s all driven by the quest for speed, but I don’t think if you had a mandatory minimum pit stop time it would change anything. They would still change the wheels quickly and you’d have the rather odd sight of a car just sitting there for the rest of the time.”
However, Whiting is insistent that the system isn’t the cause of the safety concerns, but instead attributes it to the speed it takes to change a wheel on Formula One cars.
“I think what we’ve got to address is the fundamental problem and that is why did that wheel not get fixed on properly? That’s really what we want to do. And why was the car released in an unsafe condition? So what we’ve done since then is to introduce mandatory two stage wheel retention devices on the wheel nuts.
Whiting then explained the systems that had been put in place to avoid an incident similar to that of what happened last summer.
“We have made it compulsory to have the button on the gun has to be in a position where the operator has to make a distinct move to say “yes I’m done” where before they could just slide their thumb across and just say I’m done. Each gun has a button which the operator presses to say he’s done so then the jack men get two green lights on the end of the car, drop the car, then the guy releasing the car sees two green jacks.
“We’ve also introduced an override on the pit wall which is saying that nothing can happen until he takes his finger off the button as well.”
Look out for an in-depth piece looking at more of Whiting’s comments from the lecture in the next few days.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic.