Why has the FIA stated new rules to slow down F1 pit stops?

The FIA announced that rules concerning pit stops in F1 would change from the next Hungarian Grand Prix with ambitions to improve the safety of drivers and mechanics. Let’s find out why the Federation stated this change.

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F1 pit stops are the most important moments during a race. They can reach maximum tension conditioning race’s result both positively and negatively. In the last few years, some accidents have happened in this phase. One of the scariest mishaps took place in Bahrain in 2018 when Kimi Raikkonen restarted because the green light turned on very soon while his mechanics were changing his tyres. This fact caused some physical problems to one mechanic and a fine for Ferrari for unsafe release.

For safety reasons, we would furthermore expect the minimum time offset between the initiation of the jack release procedure and the OK signal to the driver given by the green light to be at least 0.2 seconds.

If someone wants to go back to the past decades of Formula 1, the history is full of these accidents. It has happened to Verstappen in the German Grand Prix in 1994 and Massa in Singapore in 2008, where this accident probably caused the loss of the championship for the Brazilian driver.

To avoid dangerous accidents during this phase, the FIA stated this changing of rules concerning pit stops from the next Hungarian GP. The government of Motorsport explained its statement: “For safety reasons, we would furthermore expect the minimum time offset between the initiation of the jack release procedure and the OK signal to the driver given by green light to be at least 0.2 seconds.”

This modification’s rules seem to be a thorn against RedBull, the fastest team during this very important phase. In fact, when these new rules were stated, Christian Horner, Red Bull’s Team Principal, declares: “If you can’t be beaten, then the most logical thing is for your competitors to slow down you.”

If you can’t be beaten, then the most logical thing is for your competitors to slow down you.

Christian Horner
Team Principal, Red Bull Racing

At the same time Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ Team Principal, replied that his team had made a request to the FIA for an improvement of safety’s measures during pit stops telling: “We inquired with the FIA on a safety mechanism, which is related to a system that we were using and whether that could be optimised”.

The argument about this topic will carry on, of course, until the next Hungarian GP. Over there, we will find out how these changes can determine race results and, at the same time, the championship’s fight. The statement taken by the FIA about pit stops safety is correct, but fans hope that this rule change won’t ruin the show produced at this amazing race phase.

We inquired with the FIA on a safety mechanism, which is related to a system that we were using and whether that could be optimised.

Toto Wolff
Team Principal & CEO, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team

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