The FIA has delayed new rules that are aimed at slowing down pitstops and made a number of changes that should have less of an impact on the current systems.
Last month the FIA issued a technical directive (TD) to the teams outlining minimum tolerances at each stage of a pitstop to ensure teams aren’t relying on automation to achieve record breaking speeds, with Red Bull recording the fastest pit stop this season at 1.93 seconds.
Part of that TD included ‘human reaction’ times of various lengths at each stage, with a minimum of 0.15s from the wheelnuts being observed as tight before the signal is passed to the jack man to drop the car, then a further 0.2 seconds before the car is released.
In total it would have added on around one second, meaning sub-two second pitstops would be impossible.
These changes were set to be implemented at the next round in Hungary, but the FIA has issued a revised TD confirming they will be delayed until the Belgian GP following the summer break to allow additional time for teams to prepare.
McLaren’s Andreas Seidl said this delay came about following a discussion between the teams and the FIA.
“It was a good, constructive discussion between teams and the FIA. In the end, due to the special situation that we are in also with Covid – that it is not so easy to go back to the factories at the moment and train together with the crew all the changes that were in the TD initially – I think it made sense in the end to delay it and use the longer break and give every team more time to be prepared for the change.”
Christian Horner, whose team is consistently amongst the quickest at pitstops, criticised the rule change and believes record stops should be celebrated.
“Seeing pit stops at sub-two-seconds is a remarkable feat and we should be encouraging it, not trying to control it,” he said.
Following that discussion, the FIA has dropped the minimum reaction times from the directive and instead made it mandatory that pitstop equipment software includes safety protocols that can recognise if a wheel hasn’t been fastened securely, then putting the responsibility on the operator to conduct a visual check.
A minimum reaction time has been retained on releasing the car, but this has been cut from 0.2s to 0.1s, to give the team member in charge of giving the green light a moment to react, with the FIA making it clear it won’t tolerate an instantaneous release from when the signal is given by all four wheel gun operators.
McLaren’s Seidl welcomed the clarification to ensure all teams are aware of what they can and can’t do, adding: “The main objective of this TD is, first of all, to make sure that pit stops are done in a safe way and anticipate, let’s say, also bad things to happen.
“And second thing is it should also ensure that we all have a level playing field in terms of the interpretation or the application of the regulations. So we are happy with that.”