Ferrari Cause Controversy With Pit Stops

Ferrari Cause Controversy With Pit Stops

On lap 37 of the European Grand Prix, Felipe Massa came into the pitlane for his second scheduled stop. By the time he had completed his out-lap, the FIA were investigating the events that happened. On lap 48, Kimi Raikkonen pitted for his final stop, and in leaving the box, managed to knock over the refueller who was still attached to the car. Ferrari, it seems, are not looking too good in the pitlane at the moment, despite winning the race in dominant style.

Felipe Massa was released from his pit box into the path of Force India driver Adrian Sutil. Massa was forced to back out of the throttle and concede to Sutil hampering both drivers in the progress and almost making contact. The FIA have stated that the incident will be investigated after the race, meaning that if Massa is penalised, he could lose his win. All this despite the Ferrari driver walking on to the podium and collecting the winners trophy.

Kimi Raikkonen’s stop was also eventful, the Finn making contact with the refueller and knocking the hose-holder with his rear wheel. Ferrari are using a light system for their pitstops, essentially replacing the lollipop with a series of lights on a gantry above the drivers head. When each of the wheel changers have completed their job and the fuel hose has been removed from the car, the light changes from amber to green, indicating to the driver that he can leave.

Looking at replays, the light looked amber to me, so it appears that Raikkonen left his stop early. The reigning champion managed to drag the refueller down and he/she took a hard knock from the Ferrari’s rear-right wheel. The Ferrari employee was stretchered off to the medical centre, but it appears there are no serious injuries.

The semi-automatic system was described by Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali, and it was said that it isn’t automatic as ITV suggested, but controlled by a human, implying that one person is in charge of allowing the light to change. However, no matter how clever you can develop systems like these, there is still the reliance on the driver to follow instructions and obey the system. Initially speaking, it looks as though Raikkonen made an error of judgement. The Finn refused to talk to Louise Goodman after he retired on his outlap with a blown engine.

Should Felipe Massa be penalised I will post an update.

Update: Ferrari have been fined €10,000 and have received a slap on the wrists. Felipe Massa keeps his race win though – the result is unchanged.



  • I’m pretty surprised that Massa didn’t receive some sort of penalty during the race -and even more surprised that he hasn’t been demoted down the grid at the next GP. A fine is basically no penalty at all to these drivers and teams!

    Having said that, Massa wasn’t really at fault and given his driving today I am happy he has retained the win – especially given what happened at the last race where he was robbed of a well-deserved win due to unreliability.

    And what odds Ferrari engines blowing up in successive races? It’s a pretty uncommon sight at all these days, never mind to have two from the same team.

    Ferrari seem to be doing all in their power to hand this season’s titles to McLaren and Hamilton…

  • […] These pitlane blunders will almost certainly call into question the system Ferrari are using. Instead of having a lollipop man release the car when all is ready, the Maranello-squad now use a lighting system that is positioned on a gantry above the drivers head. As each part of the pit stop is completed, the system is made aware and once the fuel nozzle comes out, the red light changes to amber, and then to green when the car can be safely released back into the pitlane. The replays clearly show Raikkonen leaving the box before the green light came on, but also of note is that the amber light was shown while the fuel nozzle was still attached to the car. […]

  • On your point about Ferrari’s non-lollipop system, I’ve wondered for a while why noone else has copied it – maybe this is why!

    Although Ferrari said it was not an automatic system, but instead human-operated, I still think it works roughly how ITV described it.

    I would imagine what actually happens is that each person on the tyres and fuel has a button as was suggested by ITV – the tyre guys are generally finished earlier than the fuel one so when all 4 have pressed their buttons I think the amber light will come on, with the green being lit only when the fuel guy has pressed his button.

    In this instance Kimi knew he needed a very speedy getaway so was watching the fuel-filler in his mirrors, saw movement and floored it – a bit too early though.

    Just my thoughts – could all be nonsense!

  • Well, I watched the race and I think this weekend was disappointing; but actually I liked the circuit. By the way, I think there is no need for Massa getting penalized. He braked when he saw Sutil as I saw. It would be better for Ferrari to cancel this light thing. It’s a silly idea!

  • If it weren’t for the kind of penalties McLaren got for far less then I would have said that the €10k fine and reprimand would have been fair enough.

    This lack of consistency is causing all kinds of problems now , and I’d go as far as to suggest it shows the FIA is not as impartial as it should be.

  • It would be senseless and unfair to penalize Massa. He did everything right, actually, by stopping and avoiding a pit lane accident–unlike Hamilton’s gaffe in the pits which took out Raikkonen. The closeness of this incident has been replicated quite a few times in the past with various drivers even with the lollipop system. It’s simple, really, no damage no punishment. In any event if punishment is to be assigned it should be to the Ferrari team and not to the Ferrari driver who clearly dominated the race and did nothing but obey his team’s pit signals. Massa has had enough bad luck already. He should be leading the championship.

  • I find it really hard to believe that Kimi does not know his pit crew, his statement was “There is not much to say. I left [the pits] a bit too early. It was my fault and unfortunately I ran over the guy who was refuelling,” said Raikkonen. Does this man not know who his pit crew is. He acted in every interview that is was just some blow joe working on his car. Can someone please inform me if these drivers just dont care about anyone else or are they that sheltered from everything around them. I sure would want to know who is in my crew, after all I would hate to be going over 200 mph and had @#$% off someone on my crew the night before, what a mess that could be. Become human Kimi you are not the only person risking your life out there, especially on your team.

  • I think the fine is an appropriate penalty for Massa — after all, he relies on his team to signal him to leave the pit. What I though was odd were his comments in the post-race interview where he seemed to say that Sutil was at fault. While I don’t think Massa should be held responsible for being released from his pit stop while Sutil was in the lane, I think it’s silly for him to say that Sutil should have been waiting for Massa to leave the pits before him.

  • […] 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. […]

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