F1 drivers and teams raise safety concerns over Paul Ricard pitlane

Formula 1 drivers and teams have expressed concerns about the Paul Ricard pitlane ahead of a potentially wet French Grand Prix

F1 drivers and teams raise safety concerns over Paul Ricard pitlane

The pit exit and entry were discussed at length in Friday evening's drivers' briefing, although there was no scope to make any changes within this weekend.

Drivers have to make a tight left turn right in front of the Mercedes pit at the entry, potentially putting the team's crew at risk.

That led to race director Charlie Whiting cutting the speed limit from 80km/h (50mph) to 60km/h (37mph) after first practice, in order to reduce the risks.
But drivers have suggested that it could still be tricky in the wet.

The exit has attracted attention because cars emerge on the racing line.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff admitted that he had some concerns for the safety of his crew members, especially after the recent Hungaroring DTM race where three officials were injured in accidents when drivers lost control in a wet pitlane.

"We had some terrible accidents with dreadful injuries, cars aquaplaning into people, and into pit equipment," Wolff said when asked by Autosport for his view on the pitlane.

"Tomorrow with rain, clearly the garage entry is a worry. But I have 100% confidence in Charlie and his men that by reducing the speed limit, it will be OK.

"Having said that in Budapest the data we measured when [Edoardo] Mortara and [Lucas] Auer turned into their respective pit boxes, they were doing 40km/h [25mph]. Whatever speed you do, you aquaplane.

"The pit exit is not good, because it's right on the line.

"For next year it's something clearly we can improve."

In Friday's drivers' briefing Lewis Hamilton questioned why Mercedes had been given the first pit garage, by the left hand kink, when garages at the far end of the pitlane are either empty or are being used by the FIA. His rivals shared his concerns.

"Us drivers are protected in a way," said Daniel Ricciardo. "It is the mechanics who are at risk.

"Lewis asked why did we have to start the pit boxes so early - why could we not push it all back so we are not turning into the mechanics, so to speak?

"I think he had a valid point. With the current layout it is something they could have easily done. In the wet we will have some caution."

Stoffel Vandoorne agreed, adding: "With the guardrails and the angles you're entering the pitlane it's putting some of the guys, especially at Mercedes, at risk.

"It happens very fast and for sure 60km/h is better already but I think they could have done a bit better by moving all the boxes a bit further away.

"I think there was an easy solution in place."

Carlos Sainz Jr is particularly concerned about the exit, especially in wet conditions.

"As soon as you exit the pitlane you are on the racing line, and it depends on the car behind, because with these mirrors you really don't see if there's anyone coming," he said.

"We will rely a bit on the radio, and on the car behind to see us exiting the pitlane.

"That pit exit, if you get a bit of spray and you don't see the car coming, it could be a bit of a situation.

"But we're Formula 1 drivers, and we hope that we can avoid any kind of strange situation."

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Series Formula 1
Author Adam Cooper
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