The FIA Formula One Race Director, Safety Delegate, Permanent Starter and head of the F1 Technical Department, Charlie Whiting, admitted that he was left “perplexed” by the Maranello team’s pit stop blunder in Bahrain in which the rear left tyre wasn’t changed and Scuderia Ferrari Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen hit his mechanic. This year’s championship has already seen three drivers retire from races because of pit stop issues.
In Australia both Haas drivers were released with loose wheels while in Bahrain Kimi Raikkonen was forced to stop in the pits as his rear left tyre hadn’t even been changed: “The two instances in Melbourne were quite clearly wheel gun operator error.” – Charlie Whiting said, as reported by the British media this week – “They cross-threaded the nuts, thought it was tight, came off, then realised a little bit too late that it wasn’t. The guy hadn’t even taken the wheel off [before the car was released] which is slightly perplexing.” – he added.
Kimi Raikkonen’s incident also put one of his pit stop crew, Francesco Cigarini, in the hospital as the Finn accidentally hit him as he was given the go-ahead to leave his pit box. However, the race incidents haven’t been the only ones this season as the pre-season began with Fernando Alonso loosing a wheel during testing. Charlie Whiting added: “Alonso lost a wheel in testing and we went through it all with McLaren. They gave us a report, we discussed it with the Technical Working Group to understand, make sure everyone else realises these things can happen [and] everyone tries to learn from it.” – the FIA Formula One Race Director and Safety Delegate Charlie Whiting concluded.