By on April 9, 2018

Räikkönen post Bahrain DNF

It’s easy to forget that, like drivers, pit crew members frequently put themselves in harm’s way for the big win. We saw a brutal reminder of this on Sunday when Ferrari mechanic Francesco Cigorini had his leg run over by driver Kimi Räikkönen post-release. While the incident wasn’t life threatening, it did serve to show that the pit lane is not for the faint of heart (nor is the video, seen below).

Räikkönen had come in for his second tire swap of the Bahrain Grand Prix and was given the go ahead to launch before Cigorini had finished his work. He and another mechanic were still attempting to remove the left rear tire when the car was released and Francesco was struck. The car was stopped while still in pit lane and retired immediately, killing any hope of a podium finish. The normally calm Räikkönen removed his steering wheel and threw it into the cockpit in anger after realizing he’d be stuck with a DNF.

To be fair, Kimi cannot be faulted for the incident. During pit stops, F1 drivers are singularly fixated on getting the go ahead and have little idea of what is taking place around them. “I don’t see what happens,” Räikkönen said after the race. “My job is to go when the light is green.”

 

A little over an hour later, Scuderia Ferrari announced the mechanic had suffered a shinbone and fibula fracture requiring surgery. In the hours to come, the team expressed its gratitude for all the well-wishing coming Cigorini’s way, while Ferrari chief Sergio Marchionne expressed his sympathy.

“First and foremost, I wish our mechanic a speedy recovery and hope to see him back on the track soon,” he said in a statement. “I am sorry for Kimi who could certainly have finished on the podium. The team performed consistently all weekend and we were front-runners from the start of practice.”

Ferrari still won, however. Sebastian Vettel still managed to take first place in Bahrain but admitted to the win feeling muted after the day’s events. “A bit sad because one of our mechanics got injured,” Vettel said when asked how he was feeling. “A mixed day overall.”

The team was fined $79,800 for an unsafe pit release — a violation it also saw during Friday’s practice. Räikkönen discussed the incident further before going to visit Cigorini in the hospital.

“What happened to our guy Francesco today at the pit-stop is very unfortunate. I feel sorry for him and hope he’s going to be OK soon,” he said. “It’s always a bad thing when someone gets injured but I am sure he has the best people taking good care of him and I wish him a speedy recovery. As for the accident itself, all I know is that I moved when I saw the green light go on. I couldn’t have possibly realized that there was an issue with the rear left wheel, then I saw someone had got hurt and, immediately, I was told to stop by the team. Unfortunately something must have gone wrong and we’ll need to find out what.”

[Image: Scuderia Ferrari]

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20 Comments on “Oh Snap! F1 Mechanic Breaks Leg During Ferrari Pit Stop, Räikkönen Gets DNF...”


  • avatar
    tylanner

    A special kind of twunt was required to make this unfortunate scenario a reality. Mistakes were made and it wasn’t Kimi.

    The rear wheel hadn’t even come off before Kimi was released by his crew…which is required to be changed by rule with the other wheels during a pit stop when you change compounds.

    This is not something that should happen.

    With all the fancy safety precautions, the drivers just might be the safest people on the F1 grid.

  • avatar
    Urlik

    My guess is the left rear was still attached so was showing green when the jack was dropped. Looks like a process issue as much as human error for the jack man dropping the rear.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    Technology replaces (lollipop) man. Self driving car (release). The future looks bright (for survivors) :)

    • 0 avatar
      James2

      Years ago Ferrari had this same problem (think it was with Schumacher or Barrichello) and you would have thought ‘once is more than enough’ and gone back to the old-fashioned way.

  • avatar
    AlfaRomasochist

    That headline is truly disgusting. Seriously, do better.

  • avatar
    The ultimate family-friendly hybrid vehicle is finally here.

    That’s the breaks!

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    Too bad this injury/mishap is the main story coming out of Bahrain race. It came down to last lap, with Vettel barely holding off Botas on tires ready to let go. Toro also made McLaren look pretty bad beating them with Honda power McLaren spent all last year blaming for their own slow pace.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    That was nasty, seeing his leg bend like rubber as Kimi pulled away. I guess he’s somewhat fortunate in that it broke the bone instead of tearing up the knee.

  • avatar
    JMII

    So is an unsafe release an automatic DQ? I realize things were bad because the mechanic was injured and car had the wrong tires fitted (both clearly against the rules) but why did Kimi just give up and get out of the car?

    Several cars during the Indy racing in Phoenix also contacted pit members due to worn tires and slippery pit stalls. Rossi was even a lap down and managed 3rd with an amazing drive.

    • 0 avatar
      Urlik

      Kimi was following team orders. It was a good quick call because he had one wrong tire on and the pit spot wasn’t useable to push him back and put the tire on because the mechanic was down. He’d have been down laps by the time they could get him back out.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Ferrari’s release system, which illuminates the green release light when the wheel is in contact with the hub, has a twofold design problem.

    One problem is that that the wheel contacting the hub does not ensure that it’s either properly in place or that the wheel nut has been torqued down. The other, as we now see, is that there needs to be sensor circuit logic to require first detecting the removal of the original wheel before validating the presence of the replacement and signaling green.

    • 0 avatar
      Urlik

      I suspect every team will be adding that logic this week. The jack man and the Lead man had the ability to stop the green but there is just too much going on in 2 seconds.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Oh, and count me in against the disgraceful headline above. The Ferrari mechanic suffered tib/fib fractures — both bones in the lower leg. He’s going to have plates and screws in there, and a long recovery. Given the agility and flexibility needed by an F1 tire changer he may never be able to do his job again. Nothing funny about it.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      This is what the mechanics do during races. They are not dedicated pit stop crew. The injured person would still have their regular and far more important duties even if they can’t change tires any more. They could adjust the front wing or steady the car.

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