The FIA ​​wants to strengthen safety during F1 pit stops

A new technical directive sets a minimum reaction time for mechanics to avoid any premature action made for competitive purposes.  

 

Published on 25/06/2021 à 14:22

Julien BILLIOTTE

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The FIA ​​wants to strengthen safety during F1 pit stops

The Red Bull team has established itself as the pit stop specialist / © DPPI

After flexible wings and tire pressures, it is now pit stops that are in the FIA's sights. Last Wednesday, Nikolas Tombazis, technical manager of the single-seater series, issued a new technical directive to clarify the regulator's position regarding pit-stop procedures. 

In this document that AUTOhebdo was able to travel, the Greek aerodynamicist recalls that each gun attendant must act in full awareness and independently of his colleagues. In other words, he must not anticipate the execution of his task or rely on excessive automation of his equipment to save time. 

Currently, each mechanic must press a button to signal that he has completed his task. Once validation has been received by the 4 wheel change attendants, another member of the team activates the green light placed in front of the driver, who can set off again at the same time as the gear levers are removed as quickly as possible. 

Some stables have guns “ smart » which detect the correct fixation of the wheel and automatically send a message to the mechanic, before the latter passes on the information to the person responsible for the light who releases the driver. 

Red Bull has established itself for years as the reference in terms of pit-stops. It is in fact not uncommon for the Austrian team to manage to change all four wheels of its single-seaters in less than 2 seconds, gaining precious tenths in the process. 

Without openly targeting anyone, the FIA ​​is concerned about this hunt for performance, which could compromise the safety of the various stakeholders as the teams flirt with the limit. 

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In its new technical directive, Tombazis has therefore set a minimum reaction time at 0”15. Below this threshold, the action will be judged invalid because the regulator will consider that it was carried out in anticipation and unconsciously. In such a situation, the mechanic will have to release the confirmation button and press it again. 

Teams will also have to prove to the governing body that the “OK” message displayed on the smart guns only appears when the wheel is securely attached to the axle. 

Finally, teams will now have to respect an interval of 2/10th of a second between the moment when the car is placed on the ground and the green light is illuminated which gives authorization to the pilot to leave. The FIA ​​wants to ensure that the mechanics have enough time to move away from the wheels. 

Unsurprisingly, Red Bull considers itself targeted by this new technical directive and suggests that Mercedes would be no stranger to it. Present alongside his counterpart and rival Christian Horner at the FIA ​​press conference this Friday at the Red Bull Ring, Toto wolff admitted that the Brackley team (United Kingdom) had contacted the regulator a month ago to inquire about a safety mechanism used during a pit-stop and to find out if it could be optimized. 

« Did this question trigger anything? Maybe I do not know » commented the main Mercedes team, who had probably said too much. 

The new pit stop procedures are due to come into effect on July 26, 2021, just before the Hungarian Grand Prix which precedes the summer break.  

Julien BILLIOTTE

AUTOhebdo deputy editor-in-chief. The feather dipped in gall.

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