Lights, Camera, Action: Ferrari Haven’t Given Up On Pitlane Lights

Lights, Camera, Action: Ferrari Haven’t Given Up On Pitlane Lights

Last year Ferrari suffered many embarrassments in the pitstops when both Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen dropped the clutch too early, resulting in near-misses with other cars (mainly similarly powered Adrian Sutil). The reason for the near misses wasn’t always driver error, and Ferrari’s lighting system came under a lot of criticism, so much so that the Maranello squad reverted back to the standard lollipop for the final three races. But the idea isn’t completely dead and buried just yet.

The main issue wasn’t really to do with the lights themselves – on the face of it they are a very good idea and remove one person from the pitlane. However, the first problem came when the fuel nozzle-retraction from the car didn’t indicate the lights to change. The second issue centred around the human on the pit wall who was charged with giving the final confirmation that all was clear for the car to go. It seemed that sometimes it didn’t always go to plan.

In Valencia, Kimi Raikkonen left the garage early, replays suggesting the light was amber, indicating that this was driver error. But in Singapore, Massa was given the green light to go. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, the fuel hose was still attached and ended up being dragged down the pitlane. In both cases, team members were pulled to the ground and received minor injuries.

So for the final three races of 2008, Ferrari reverted to the traditional lollipop system, whereby a member of the team stands in front of the car and gives instructions to the driver via the lollipop. But all these embarrassments haven’t stopped Ferrari from pursuing the lighting system, and now it is expected to make a return in 2009.

We’ve analysed the mistakes made in 2008 and we’ve improved the system. An electronic program will prevent the car from leaving when the fuel hose is still attached. Luca Baldisserri.

Since the end of the 2008 season, Ferrari have researched what happened and why the accidents occurred. The team have made several changes to the system, notably the software, and are now confident that it should work as expected, with a very good fail-safe systems in place to prevent any more early releases. Perhaps Ross Brawn let a few documents slip through the net in exchange for a few Italian-built motors…?

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6 comments

  • Perhaps Ross Brawn let a few documents slip through the net in exchange for a few Italian-built motors…?

    hello! i love that line of thought.

    hmmmm.

    what’s an engine worth i wonder?

  • Presumably, no matter how automated the system becomes, you’ll still need that one guy looking out to see who’s coming down the pit lane. If it all rests on one man’s push of the button, I can’t imagine it’s saving them any time.

    Either way, they’d better make it work this time, or they’ll never live it down!

  • i love that line of thought.

    I know you love a good conspiracy theory. 🙂

    Presumably, no matter how automated the system becomes, you’ll still need that one guy looking out to see who’s coming down the pit lane.

    Thing is, with all these tracking systems on the cars, I don’t see why it cannot be totally automated. The systems can probably tell to within a couple of metres exactly where the car is on the track. So why not have a system hooked up to the ECU that disables the possibility of engaging any gear (or opening the throttle/limiting revs to idle) until the exit path is clear?

  • I can’t believe this. I just tried to find out whether custom tracking systems were still permitted (I had heard at one point they had/might be banned). However, I got to the FIA site to find a “404 SITE NOT FOUND” message.

    How strange…

  • I’d like to commend Ferrari for sticking to their guns and ignoring a few naysayers who laugh at their previous mistakes. For once, they’re operating in the true spirit of modern F1: development on every aspect of racing, not just on the car but every part of their operation and logistics.

    Failures? Sure it happens, a lesser entity might be embarrassed by it and give up, but the good ones will analyze the problems and fix them. Maybe those factory teams owned by big auto manufacturers don’t want to suffer a few “embarrassments,” after all they have to answer first to their board of directors, to the detriment of F1. But the teams that are here for pure racing will continue to innovate at the risk of a few set backs, and good for them!

    Presumably, no matter how automated the system becomes, you’ll still need that one guy looking out to see who’s coming down the pit lane. If it all rests on one man’s push of the button, I can’t imagine it’s saving them any time.

    Not really, it can be setup so that the man only needs to push the button, and override the automated green light, while the situation is unsafe for a release.

    Either way, they’d better make it work this time, or they’ll never live it down!

    Not for me. I’ll cheer on any team that keeps innovating, no matter how many problems they run into, as long as they move forward. And i’ll boo any front-running team in F1 that plays it conservative.

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