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GP Week : Issue 14
GPWEEK OPINION >> LEWIS Hamilton and Nico Rosberg’s Canadian Grand Prix pit lane errors were stupid and unnecessary – but not, I might hasten to add, entirely due to the drivers. Yes, it was ultimately Lewis who crashed into Kimi and Nico who crashed into Lewis, and yes it was their responsibility to be aware of what was going on ahead of them… but should that situation really have even been possible? It seems to me that the real wrongdoer here was not so much Hamilton or Rosberg, but these stupid Safety Car regulations. This isn’t the first example of a driver’s race being ruined by the rules and, until we see a sensible change, it won’t be the last either. As it is we’ve now seen two championship contenders shunted out of the race and Hamilton and Rosberg now start the French Grand Prix with a ten place grid penalty. While the notion of initially closing the pit lane during Safety Car sessions is all perfectly fine in principle, it simply has not, does not and will not really work. If the pit lane is to be closed during Safety Car periods then keep it closed. Where the confusion and root of Sunday’s stupidity lay was that the teams and drivers had been told via race control that the pit lane was, at that time, open. Open to get in, yes., but not to get out. For by the time the drivers were due to depart the pit lane, the traffic lights at the pit exit were still red, because the Safety Car was still on the start-finish straight at that time. If you funnel a bunch of fired-up drivers into a pit lane, and send them on their way again only to discover they can’t actually leave, all you’re creating is a bottleneck and a recipe for disaster. The Canadian Grand Prix was a simple but effective demonstration of that. There has been much talk of late that an additional fuel cell needs to be fitted to Formula 1 cars in order to allow them to continue running through a closed pit lane period under the Safety Car, should their fuel levels be running low. Of course, much of this suggestion would depend on how heavily each car had been fuelled in the first place and when the Safety Car came out during a driver’s stint. The point of a Safety Car period is to make the track safe. But by creating so many cans and cannots during a Safety Car period, what we’ve ended up with is a dangerous situation in one of the most populous and cramped parts of the circuit. To my mind, closing the pit lane serves no real purpose. It has, and will continue, to ruin races and take a driver’s destiny out of his and his team’s hands. That’s not why these rules were created, but it’s the unfortunate conclusion of their existence. There needs to be a change in the regulations. Some would say it can’t come fast enough. But Lewis Kimi and Nico would probably argue it’s already a little bit late. Stupid and Unnecessary o p in io n Will Buxton GPWeek Editor 19