Another Pitlane Disaster For Ferrari

Another Pitlane Disaster For Ferrari

It wasn’t all that long ago that Ferrari had a two disastrous pitstops, one for each driver. And it appears that the Scuderia have made another mistake, giving Felipe Massa the green light to go while the fuel hose was still attached. As Massa dropped the clutch team members were thrown around and the hose was ripped from the machine and dragged down the pitlane, dangling from the Ferrari.

It would appear that no one was seriously hurt, but Massa’s race was obviously hindered, and the ensuing investigation led to a penalty for unsafe release. It seems that Ferrari’s lighting system, although technically brilliant, isn’t working as well as it should. A human error from the pitlane meant the green light was posted too early and Felipe went from first to last. To add to the unsafe release, Adrian Sutil was impeded as he charged down the pitlane behind Felipe. Massa pulled over at the end of the pitlane and the mechanics ran down to clear the hose from the car.

Should Ferrari be forced to return to the old lollipop system?


Thanks to F1Fanatic for finding the video.


  • They have some of the best equipment, arguably the best drivers, the largest cash backing and this happens, it was as frustrating as watching Arsenal lose to Hull yesterday.

  • OMG!!!! This was just not a good day for the boys in red. How many more times does this have to happen before Ferrari goes back to the

    lollipop way. I feel really bad for Massa and what the hell happened to Kimi, dear god someone put him out of his misery. Has he forgotten how to finish a race (lol). A piece of advice for the pit crews, Practice,Practice,Practice and don’t be so trigger happy to give these drivers the green light to go I would rather be delayed by 1 to 2 seconds then fall 15 spots on the grid or maybe since this is so “technically brilliant” they can have a computer give the green light and release them after the refueling is complete, they need to due something.

  • The problem seems to be the re-fueler. He has a button to press to indicate the hose is out and in an effort to save quarter of a second he seems to press it as soon as he grabs the handle. If all goes well it all looks remarkably synchronised but if the hose sticks it is a complete disaster. Clearly they need to put a man physically in font of the car so that the driver knows what is happening and not what should be happening if everything goes perfectly.

    Apart from the fact that the driver was released while the fuel rig was attached it was yet another unsafe release from Ferrari. I would love an explanation as to why a drive through was the correct penalty this time while exactly the same offence for exactly the same team and driver at Valencia was given only an irrelevant financial penalty.

  • […] It was too late. Massa had dropped the clutch and squeezed the throttle. The mechanics were pulled to the ground and Felipe drove straight into the fast area of the pitlane in front of Adrian Sutil – what is it about these two teams meeting like this over and over again? Realising something was amiss – Massa was dragging the fuel hose behind him – the Brazilian pulled over at the end of the pitlane and Ferrari personnel sprinted down to free the offending article. Massa rejoined the race in pretty much plum-last. Oh how the mighty had fallen. […]

  • I would love an explanation as to why a drive through was the correct penalty this time while exactly the same offence for exactly the same team and driver at Valencia was given only an irrelevant financial penalty.

    I can give you an explanation right now, Steven: The FIA (and the stewards) don’t know their arse from their elbow.

  • I would love an explanation as to why a drive through was the correct penalty this time while exactly the same offence for exactly the same team and driver at Valencia was given only an irrelevant financial penalty.

    I think the difference was in the siting of Ferrari’s pit – in Valencia they were the last garage so when Massa was released alongside the other car he could take avoiding action without really impeding Sutil.

    This time however with the full pitlane to travel it was much more dangerous.

    I’m not saying I agree particularly, but I’m guessing that’d be their reasoning should they lower themselves to giving us an explanation!

  • I just had the thought that Massa’s car was outside the boundary of his team garage when the crew removed the fuel hose. Isn’t this against the rules?

    I checked the FIA website, and 23.1a says the following:

    For the avoidance of doubt and for description purposes, the pit lane shall be divided into two lanes.

    The lane closest to the pit wall is designated the “fast lane”, and the lane closest to the garages is designated the “inner lane”. Other than when cars are at the end of the pit lane under Articles 38.3 and 41.5, the inner lane is the only area where any work can be carried out on a car. 2008 FIA Sporting Regulations.

    And 23.1b says:

    The FIA will designate an area in the pit lane where each team may work and one place where pit stops during both practice and the race may be carried out. 2008 FIA Sporting Regulations.

    Articles 38.3 and 41.5 are about the starting procedure and what happens if the cars are instructed into the pits during a race due to something odd happening on the track.

    So therefore, were the team allowed to work on Massa’s car where it was? Obviously, for safety reasons, the answer is yes – Massa couldn’t have completed a lap before getting the hose removed. And he was in the “inner lane” as he pulled over. But I’m sure I’ve read somewhere about not being able to work on the car away from the garage.

    Of course, it makes little difference as Felipe didn’t finish anywhere in the points, but as we’ve all seen recently, rules are rules, and although it seems okay at the moment, I’m sure there is something I am missing. I will continue digging…

  • Normally in any category of racing the mechanics can’t touch a car until it is in the pits but I have never come across a situation where it was illegal to work on it in any part of the pits other than the fast lane. I have seen in sports car races a driver pushing a car into the pits and the mechanics standing next to him shouting encouragement but until the car crosses the pit entry line they can’t touch it.

  • Hi hope everybody noticed the FIA did their job and gave Ferrari and poor Massa who has no responsability at all (he has the green light from his team) a drive through penalty at a very crucial moment of the championship.

    As for the intervention of the mechanics outside their own garage, I believe this is obviously a security issue. A car with the hose attached to it is dangerous.

    It looks like the race has given back the 6 points lost by Lewis in Spa. May be we have a fair end to the championship this time…

  • It is possible for the mechanics to work on the car in any part of the inner lane except those allotted to other teams and the FIA. Felipe hadn’t reached the pit exit line (where work would have been impermissible). So it was permissible for the mechanics to work on Massa’s car where it was (since it was positioned in what appeared to be an area not used by anybody in particular). That said, the other teams would have been entitled to stop the mechanics from running through their pit areas had they felt so inclined. Thankfully common sense prevailed and nobody challenged Ferrari’s attempt to get to their stricken car.

    I don’t think a lollipop would fix the problem – David Coulthard had a lollipop system when he was given a false signal to go this race. Thankfully his reactions were faster than Felipe’s, so the fuel hose remained attached to the rig. It’s an anticipation problem, only soluable with better training for the people involved with the system. Some intense pit-stop practise would do Ferrari a lot of good.

    Ultimately, I think the electronic system can be safer than the lollipop one. However, it doesn’t solve the whole problem with pit stop synchronisation – that will only happen when the people using the system learn to do their bit when it’s time to do it and not before.

    At least Massa, being blameless in this incident, won’t be treated as harshly as the last driver to take a fuel hose with him. When Albers did it, he only lasted one further race.

  • Ago, I noticed that this time the FIA remembered to follow the regulations. Pity it doesn’t remember to do it every time, otherwise teams would have more incentive to resolve their pit-lane problems.

  • It’s easy for the FIA to give Massa a drive through when he was 16th or whatever. He was neve going to score points so it was a nothing penalty. Had he been given the same penalty in Valencia it would have affected the championship. To be honest I would have had more respect for the FIA had they kept dishing out financial penalties for the rest of the season and then clarified it for next season. If nothing else this proves that the Valencia decision smells and should be investigated. It will be interesting to see what happens the next time Ferrari screw up when they are in a good position.

  • A couple of points here Steven:

    (1) the drive through happened at a time where Felipe had already overtaken Bourdais, so he had to go back to last position again.

    (2) it is esay to judge after the race that this penalty didn’t do him much harm. First Massa had a puncture and was forced to go back to his pits before he was due, and there might have been some other race incident that might have played in his favour. Look at Rosberg despite his drive-through he was able to finish 2nd…

    (3) I cannot see why you consider Massa was not punished, is that some sort of rage? Massa did nothing wrong and was “punished” by both his team and the FIA. Everything taken into account I consider that he paid a much higher price than Lewis in Spa. Your anger for FIA behaviour towards Ferrari should not be converted into anger on Massa. May I remind you that Felipe has no responsability whatsoever in both incidents. From a championship point of view he is less lucky than Lewis. That has to be said.

    I do not rejoice when a fair driver gets an unfair penalty whether he is called Lewis or Felipe or any other name.

  • Ago,

    I am not angry at anyone. I am less than happy with the inconsistency of the FIA and I am not happy at the unfair advantage that Massa has been given this year. Quite cleary Felipe did not know that he was being released unsafely on either occasion or as a result of Ferrari’s electronic system that he was being released with the hose attached. However it is right that he should be punished for it. Imagine instead of Sutil he was released in front of Hamilton unsafely and as a result won the championship. Should he not be penalised or should Hamilton unfairly lose the championship? If that is the case then any unsafe release must be given the same penalty.

    Max during his tenure has introduced the nonsense that the team and driver can be seprately penalised. That makes no sense whatever.

    Ferrari raises a huge budget – Massa benefits

    Ferrari builds a great car – Massa benefits

    Ferrari does great pitstops – Massa benefits

    Ferrari release him unsafely – Massa benefits and should be penalised.

    Team snd driver are one. It’s like saying Ferrari should get constructor’s points because it wasn’t the team’s fault Kimi stuffed the car in the wall. There is no logic to not penalising a driver for unsafe release. Drive through penalties have been handed out for that offence hundreds of times and I have never heard anyone argue it was the wrong penalty. Then the FIA give Massa the non-penalty in Valencia and people who have never objected to the drive through start trying to justify it.

    Moving him from second last to last hardly compares with donating him the victory in Valencia. He should have been given a drive through there. That now has to be indisputable.

    I promise you any rage you put on my comments does not come from me. It is not in my nature to get into a rage about anything.

  • Felipe hadn’t reached the pit exit line (where work would have been impermissible). So it was permissible for the mechanics to work on Massa’s car where it was

    Thanks Alia. As ever, your knowledge continually impresses us. 🙂

    It’s an anticipation problem, only soluable with better training for the people involved with the system.

    I agree, hence the “human error is human error” option on the poll. I think the lights are okay, it’s just the human controlling them is a it quick off the mark sometimes.

    If nothing else this proves that the Valencia decision smells and should be investigated.

    Speaking of which, when is the FIA structure-investigation thing meant to start – you know, the one Mosley mentioned when he gave his speach after winning the vote of confidence…

  • Steven, you have what I call a pretty basic vision of the law. A rather black or white interpretation of the rules. The circumstances must be taken into account in sport like in life.

    Last year McLaren lost all their points, but not the drivers I found that quite fair. Drivers where not involved in the affair.

    The unsafe release in Valencia didn’t do any harm to anybody, and Massa didn’t take any advantage out of it, he rather lost a firstful of seconds. If you believe Massa should not have win this race, you have something else in mind. Or maybe you are a Mclaren lawyer 😉 In all fairness taking this victory out of Massa would have been unfair, totally and utterly unfair. As for the drive through penalty in Singapore it is only knowing what happened in the end that you can say it was a pointless penalty. Put yourself for 5s in Felipe’s head and just wonder what you would have thought in the same circumstances…

    Now if you want somebody to pay for the injustice done to Lewis in Spa that is another story indeed…

  • Drivers where not involved in the affair.

    Erm… While Pedro De La Rosa was not an active driver in the 2007 championship, he is McLaren’s reserve and test driver, and therefore could have been activated at any point, before or after ‘the affair’. And given the situation between Hamilton and Alonso at the time, it wasn’t an inconceivable thought that De La Rosa might have been called up. The emails and text messages showed he was aware and was trying to manipulate the data to McLaren’s advantage. I believe he was unsuccessful, but let’s just say I am surprised he still a member of the team. (Or have I completely misunderstood De La Rosa’s involvement?) 🙂

    Also, Fernando Alonso admitted to knowing about the data, although I believe the extent of his involvement was just being aware of such data whilst not exactly knowing what it was or even meant. I think he ignored De La Rosa’s messages, didn’t he?

  • Ago, the Sporting Regulations are governed by Swiss law, which says that the reasonable interpretation from the recipient is the key. It is not reasonable to a receipient to interpret that a table clearly permitting only four penalties (three if you discount the 25-second time conversion, which should have been irrelevant) would magically grow a fifth simply because the FIA did not wish to issue any of the other four. Even Ferrari would have been entitled to appeal the penalty upon itself, for the penalty was not a permissible one and it could have argued that no penalty at all would have at least been legal.

    The circumstances in this case are pretty much irrelevant. There is nothing in the release of Massa in Valencia that permits the FIA to ignore the penalty table it wrote down in the regulations and make a new penalty instead. Also, if a sporting penalty had been issued, Ferrari might have got their act together quicker and the Singaporean disaster may never have happened.

    Consistent rulings are good for everyone, including Ferrari.

  • Ago,

    Every driver who has ever been punished for an unsafe release except one has had a drive through. The circumstances surrounding it are irrelevant. If a driver is 1 mph above the pitlane speed limit are we going to say oh well that doesn’t matter? Ferrari released him unsafely to try and get him out in front of Sutil. The only way to force teams not to do that is to give consistent harsh penalties. I really don’t get that it would have been unfair to take the victory from him. There was an unsafe release in the view of the stewars and the standard penalty for that is a drive through. It is not the standard penalty depending on whether or not someone will lose a victory. I am not arguing whether or not Massa should win the race I am arguing about one incident in the race.

    There are two ways to govern a sport. You can be like rugby and say the rules are black and white and if you breach the rule by a tiny amount you get penalised. The benefit of this is that the rules stay constant and everyone knows if they go over the line they get hammered so they don’t do it. The other option is to have a wooly zone between right and wrong like football and look at the mess that results from that. If you watch a game from the 70s there is no wrestling in the penalty box. But because football referees are allowed to use ‘common sense’ they constantly back of from the line and allow things that were not previously legal so now we have all the wrestling in the penalty box, swearing at refs etc. I want F1 to have black and white rules and penalty so that it can maintain standards. It has slipped enough in the last 20 years and needs a disciplinarian to tighten things up.

    I totally disagree with the McLaren penalty but if you take the team’s points you have to take the drivers’ points. Your argument that the drivers were not involved makes no sense. The FIA’s position was McLaren had data illegally which they could use to improve their car. The car the drivers were driving. So if McLaren had learned enough from the Ferrari data to go and beat Ferrari that is fair? I don’t get that logic. If the team is penalised the drivers should be penalised.

    The Spa incident has nothing to do with yesterday’s incident or Valencia. I really can’t believe you think a drive through penalty had any effect yesterday. Massa was second last when he was given the penalty there was no chance he was going to score a point and I actually said so during a live commenting session at the time so it is not hindsight.

  • Back when Schumacher was driving, it looked to me like he used a giant fish-eye mirror as a lollipop. I always thought what a great idea that was, he can watch the action behind him and judge for himself if all the work is done before leaving. Why hasn’t that system caught on? It seems like a perfect way to create a double safety-check, and with all the money these teams spend, they could even install a fixed overhead mirror in the pit area for the driver’s use.

    On a different note, what a retarded rule that no refueling thing is when the safety car comes out. If you were due to come in at that time, you either take a penalty or risk running out of fuel. And as Peter Windsor said on Speed, when the pits are opened, all the cars come in anyway and create the usual traffic jam, so it solves nothing. It seems to me that if anything, the rule should be the opposite, for the first few laps under the safety car, race cars should be allowed to refuel only but not change tires, the idea being that you can always do a few more laps with worn tires but you can’t do that with an empty tank. The added bonus is that it takes just two men to refuel (and they’re on the garage side of the pits), so even if all the cars pit at the same time, there are less mechanics around to create a hazard.

    Back to the controversies, i want to applaud both Hamilton and Massa for being such great racers this season. They’ve both had great drives and have conducted themselves like true champions both on and off track. Either one of them deserves the championship. And let’s not forget that for most of the season, Massa was only the second “star” of the Ferrari team. Thumbs down to the F1 race stewards and/or whatever antiquated system they use to dish out penalties. In any other sport, when there’s an infraction they either blow the whistle right away and hand out the penalty, or they let it go. Why does it take these stewards 2 to 3 fricken laps to make up their mind?

  • Bem,

    I don’t like the Ferrari mirror because it let the driver watch the fuel hose and it meant it was possible that he could see the mechanic heave to detach the rig and he could then anticipate when to let the cluch out. Although to be fair I never saw that happen. I like the plain old fashioned lollipop where the driver is told either stop or go. It is fine for the lollipop man to have the light system visible to him so that he does not need to check each wheel but he can see the fuel hose is attached or not.

    We have seen many times the lollipop man slam it back down in front of the driver when he has made a mistake. You can’t do that with a light system. Who looks at traffic lights after they have seen the green. Slamming the mirror down in front of a driver seems dangerous to me.

  • Hi a couple of questions I have maybe Alianora will be interested as we seem to share this attention to details in the regulations 😉

    the F1 sporting regulations call “the competitor(s” the teams, not the drivers as the official competitors are the teams. The drivers are refered to as “the driver(s).

    – The penalties as described in 16.3 are given to “drivers involved an incident” and are there are 3 (drive through, 10s, drop 10 grid positions next race)

    What is an incident then? This is described clearly (?) in 16.1

    “(…) any action by any driver (…) which

    – necessitated the suspension of a race under Article 41 ;

    – constituted a breach of these Sporting Regulations or the Code ;

    – caused a false start by one or more cars ;

    – caused a collision ;

    – forced a driver off the track ;

    – illegitimately prevented a legitimate overtaking manoeuvre by a driver ;

    – illegitimately impeded another driver during overtaking.

    Did an “unsafe release” constitutes an incident as defined here above? I don’t think so (I am talking about Massa in Valencia / Singapore).

    Now 23 (pitlane) in 23 i) specifies very clearly:

    i) It is the responsibility of the competitor to release his car after a pit stop only when it is safe to do so.

    Who is the competitor (see above) the team! So how can this be classified as Incident when very clearly the responsbility doesn’t lie with the driver, and even if it was there is no reason to call it an “incident” as it doesn’t result in the very specifically described consequences of something that will be then called incident?

    Now icing on the cake (cherry on the cake as we say in France) even if it was an incident (which I doubt, I know I shouldn’t but tell me why please!) no punishment is mandatory as the very smart the sub-chapter 16.2 is saying:

    16.2 a) It shall be at the discretion of the stewards to decide, upon a report or a request by the race director, if a driver or drivers involved in an incident shall be penalised.

    How about that? 😉

    Needless to say I hope many replies to this! And I need to understand why it is classified as an incident (not challenging the stewards just want to understand !)

  • We have seen many times the lollipop man slam it back down in front of the driver when he has made a mistake.

    Yeah, some drivers stopped, some *cough-Button* just carried on regardless. 😀

  • Ago, releasing a car into the path of another car is in breach of Article 23.1(i), which states

    “It is the responsibility of the competitor to release his car after a pit stop only when it is safe to do so.”

    There was a lengthy discussion/argument about it at F1 Insight after Valencia. The point of Article 16 is to define how incidents are punished. Anything breaching Article 23.1 (i) falls under the sub-category of “constituted a breach of these Sporting Regulations or the Code”, and therefore is subject to Article 16’s stipulations.

    The drivers are included in the definition of a competitor, as a sub-category. Also, Article 16 says “involves one or more drivers”, and since Massa and Sutil were involved (albeit in drive-on parts rather than lead parts), it still constitutes an incident. There is nothing in the regulations that says a driver must be responsible for an incident that led to being penalised – how else could drivers be excluded for having underweight cars or for flexible rear wings (both of which have happened as recently as 2006)?

    16.2a) doesn’t allow the stewards to impose no penalty for an incident if they’ve decreed that the competitor/driver is guilty. It allows them to not punish incidents that they haven’t spotted. It’s also the check against Charlie Whiting or a team throwing their weight around excessively. Article 16.3 prevents the option of not punishing by stating:

    “The stewards may impose any one of three penalties on any driver involved in an Incident”

    That means that only those penalties below (which turns out to be four rather than three) can be used for responses to incidents. The “no punishment” option isn’t there. If, however, the stewards had ignored the incident, stated Ferrari were not guilty or deemed there to be insufficient evidence, 16.2 a) could have been used with impunity to defend that decision.

  • Thanks very much Alianora. I have to work on that but it seems sound to me. I am not sure for the driver being a sub-category but I take your point.. for now 😉

    Thanks too for the reference to F1 insight I never digged into this site but I will now to help me understand.

    While writing my post another idea came to my mind: Lewis said he had no choice (in Spa) and was forced to cut the chicane, so why didn’t he, or Mclaren, sued Kimi for “forcing a driver off the track” (in application of 16.1) that to me would have been much better as a line of defence than this endless discussion about “giving back the advantage”

    What do you think?… If I may 😉

  • Ed Gorman is reporting that Ferrari is keeping the light system for 2009. He says that Ferrari will move to the lollipop for the last 3 races of 2008, and then bring back the lights in 2009. Ferrari also says that “several of their rivals are now researching their own version of the lights” and that “the system alone has gained them a couple of places this season,” citing Hungary was an example.

  • […] The Ferrari light system has garnered some interesting comments from various Formula One insiders this week, and while some are for and some are against, the Scuderia has decided to revert to the traditional lollipop system for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix. The team also mentioned that under normal circumstances, the lights should automatically change when the fuel nozzle is released from the car, although the squad opted for a manual system in Singapore. Needless to say, it still didn’t work properly. […]

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