There’s and old saying in the Northern hinterlands of blighty – ‘the light is not worth the candle”. It appears Ferrari is now finally set to learn this fairly simple lesson.
Sebastian Vettel was on course for a fairly lonely trundle around the Red Bull Ring to take his 6th podium in 8 races, when relative disaster struck. His pit stop was woeful as the man on the rear right wheel gun, battled to engage the wheel nut.
Ferrari were fortunate that this happened in Austria. Had this been Vettel’s first pitstop at a number of the previous races this season, it would have cost the German much more than a one place drop in the field.
Ferrari have developed a system which could shave a tenth or two of a second form their pit stop time, by creating a relatively shallow thread that the wheel nut and rim are secured by.
The problem is cross threading the nut is relatively simple to do and this may mean the wheel is not secured to the car properly. This cost Kimi dear in Australia, as he was told to retire the car following a pitstop where a wheel was not properly attached to the car.
That alone was 10 or more points thrown away.
Ferrari’s pit stop stats for 2015 in fact flatter to deceive, because prior to the Austrian GP they were on average less than half a second behind Mercedes. After Vettel’s stop today, that statistic will look much worse.
There have been other pit stops this year where the threading of the nut has been problematic, though with less disastrous results.The Austrian GP was the eighth round of the 2015 Formula season, and finally the penny is dropping for Ferrari.
Maurizio Arivabenne is now demanding the wheel nut system be changed.
“We had a problem with the wheel nut, and it’s not the first time, so we have to make sure that it does not happen again.
“It was not a problem of the mechanics, it was our fault, and we have to make sure we fix it.
“We threw away one more time a podium for a stupid piece that we need to recover, we need to fix, as soon as possible.
“It’s not the first time, and for me it’s not acceptable.”
The potential saving of this wheel nut/rim system would need to be run for several decades perfectly to now pay back the actual time and/or points cost it has cost Ferrari this season.
Whilst the red team are improving quickly, there are aspects of their race weekends that are still clumsy and need improvement. Arrivabene has been slow to react to this issue and neither does it reflect well on James Allison who has far more experience than the new Maranello Team Principal.
Fernando Alonso suggested McLaren-Honda were making him look like an amateur in Canada – however the ‘numpty’ prize this weekend has been won hands down by Ferrari.