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Barrichello Calls For Changes To Pitlane Signals

Barrichello Calls For Changes To Pitlane Signals

Surprise, surprise, following his disqualification from last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, Rubens Barrichello has called for changes to me made to the pitlane signals. The lights are positioned at the far end of the pitlane and signal to the drivers if it is safe to join the track. According to Barrichello, he did not see the red light and believes a new system is the only way to prevent similar incidents occurring in the future.

I never saw a red light. I will never see it and I don’t pretend to see it. They are in the wrong places and by the time you see it, it is too late. You have already gone past it. Rubens Barrichello.

I will never see it. A little pesimistic, me thinks. But maybe Rubens has a point. When asked if there could be another way of informing drivers, Rubens suggested a large display, similar to what was erected at Turn Three to warn drivers of yellow flags.

Barrichello’s comments seem a little whiney, and no other driver has come forward to say that the lights are hard or impossible to see. Surely the solution would be to reposition them, or for the cockpit light idea to be developed further. There was talk a while ago of lights being illuminated on the driver’s steering wheel to warn of yellow flags. Surely if this technology is possible – and it is – it could be extended to show the pitlane signal among other things.

Or, someone from the team could radio the driver as they travel down the pitlane. Lots of possibilities!

Image courtesy of Honda F1.

Oliver White

12 comments

  • Well it’s not hard to be cynical about this one is it? I tend to agree, it would be much easier to take him seriously if he hadn’t just been smacked by the rules because of it. As the second most experienced F1 driver ever he’s got to be feeling a bit embarrassed by this rather rookie mistake.

    Do the lights need moving? I think probably only the drivers can answer that for sure. But from the shot I saw it looked pretty clear.

  • Maybe he would like a stable door fitting

    The number of times we’ve seen drivers caught out by this in recent years makes it hard to believe that teams aren’t on the radio to drivers trundling down the pitlane when the red light is on.

    Having said that, given the evident chaos in the Honda pit at the time, I can forgive the pit-wall’s attention being on their quite posssibly injured friends.

  • I can forgive the pit-wall’s attention being on their quite posssibly injured friends.

    Of course, Kris, a fair point.

    The red light looked pretty darn clear to all ITV viewers as well; maybe Rubens’s eyesight is going in his old age!?

  • To be fair to Rubens, he has a point. Judging from the shot shown on TV, the lights are positioned pretty high up and would be easy to see from a distance but more difficult as the driver approaches them. The driver’s job is to keep the car in the narrow pit lane, watch for the approaching line where he can turn off the limiter, and mind the lights, all from a very low position. It’s not surprising that sometimes they take the lights for granted, since they’re out of the direct line of vision.

    And the answer is simple – move the lights down to the driver’s eye level.

  • There were issues last year at Montreal, I think. Clearly Rubens is calling for it as he fell foul of the rules but given that it has now happened twice either (a) he is right or (b) the drivers don’t really know the pitlane/ safety car rules.

  • Last year in Montreal was the first time I could remember this type of thing happening before, so I suppose you could forgive those drivers for making the mistake but surely the teams should have all taken that on board and put measures in place to stop it happening again.

    Sunday was an exact repeat, Rubens having to come in even though the pitlane was closed and then leaving when the light was red.

    The pitwall should be talking to the driver while he is stopped, even before he has left the garage, letting him know if the light is red – or if it is currently green, he should be advised if the safety car procession is nearing the pitstraight.

    I read somewhere that it was suggested to Rubens that they go back to having a man at the end of the pits with a flag if they weren’t allowed out – surely we are meant to be moving forward not back!

    Lights on the steering wheel are the most obvious answer, not only for this, but blue and yellow flags as well (could be tricky to do a black flag) – and I thought these were coming into practice at some point anyway?

    Perhaps Rubens should’ve gone to Specsavers!

  • I think he’s clutching at straws here and it really smacks of sour grapes from Rubens after making such a poor mistake. It looked fine from the TV and, while I agree with Keith that only the drivers themselves can answer the question, the fact that no-one else seems to be complaining is a giveaway that there’s not really a problem here. It’s more a case of Rubens looking for an excuse I think.

  • I would suggest that the fact that four out of the last five drivers who have been faced with a red light in the middle of a race have run the light (and been disqualified accordingly) means that there’s a systematic problem. Clive’s suggestion of lowering the lights sounds like a sensible plan, as does Ollie’s of putting a light on the steering wheel to warn drivers. Extra driver training in briefings to tell them to check for the light would be useful, because it may simply be that drivers are getting too carried away thinking about what they’re going to do on returning to the circuit to check the light.

  • Barichello said he hoped the confusion with the pit crew to stop this year (one engineer asking him to come into pits on radio, while he can hear voices shouting not to come in, rememeber!) due to the coming of Mr. Brawn. He was wrong!!

  • If you’ve ever driven on a race circuit before, I think you might agree with Rubens comments.

    When your on a race circuit and your concentrating on what your doing and about todo… at speed. Small lights in the distance might not get your attention quick enough.

    I would suggest a small bridge of lights going across the pitlane entrance, maybe 5-10ft from the ground. Then there is no chance on the driving missing it.

    As for flag around the circuit, I think dashboard light are the way to go.

    Stephen

  • Even if Barichello is clutching at straws and trying to divert blame, why not have better lights?

    Having drivers disqualified for something so stupid and disconnected from the actual race does only makes the sport worse, so everything that can reasonably be done to prevent it should be done.

  • Hear hear, Ben.

    Just one final point: the reason drivers don’t complain about the pit exit lights until they’re caught out by them is because the problem doesn’t affect them until then. We’re just the same – raise the tax on alcohol and it will be the drinkers who complain, while the teetotallers sit in smug satisfaction. So Rubens is not making excuses; it is much more that he has suddenly been forced to realise that there is a problem that needs to be sorted out.

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