FIA launch investigation into unsafe releases

Date published: April 12 2018 - Editor

FIA race director Charlie Whiting has said that the governing body will be investigating why there has been a rise in unsafe releases from pit stops.

Ferrari's second unsafe release involving Kimi Raikkonen in Bahrain, which broke the leg of one of the Scuderia's mechanics, has proven to be the tipping point for a closer look to see if there is a fundamental issue with pit stops.

Ferrari's unsafe releases came after Haas botched pit stops in Australia, while McLaren also had an incident with Fernando Alonso during winter testing.

"It's looking less and less like a coincidence but the two incidences in Melbourne were quite clearly wheelgun operator error," Whiting told the Formula 1 website.

"They cross threaded the nuts and thought it was tight, came off and then realised a little too late it wasn't.

"[With the incident in Bahrain], the guy hadn't even taken the wheel off, which is slightly perplexing."

"Alonso lost a wheel in testing if you remember we went through it all with McLaren, they gave us a report in the week."

Whiting said that the FIA are compiling the evidence to help every team learn from the potential errors, before going into more detail about Alonso's loose wheel.

"We discussed it with the Technical Working Group to understand it all, to make sure everybody else realises these things can happen, everyone tries to learn from them.

"What happened was that the design of the nose piece that goes into the axel, that is the thing that holds the two-stage retention mechanism.

"But the way that is fixed into the axel was not quite strong enough so the wheel was a little bit loose, it worked itself loose because it had done four laps prior to that.

"So when the wheel started to tip a little bit, it put abnormal loads into the things that were holding the nose in and once the nose came out, there was no retention.

"So a lesson to be learnt there – that was shared with everyone in the Technical Working Group so that they can all look at that and make sure their designs aren't similar.

"Of course they said ours won't do that…"