‘Raise the pit lane speed limit to 150km/h’, says Lauda


At the British GP, we saw driver steward Nigel Mansell ruthlessly enforce the track limits at Copse corner with the drivers. During qualifying, 12 lap times were struck out for drivers who transgressed the white line delimiting the boundary of the track with all four wheels of their cars.

Pastor Maldonado was the only driver to lose more than one timed lap.

Of course in Mansell’s day, no such penalties were required, due to the gravel which lurked beyond the kerbs. Flirting with the kitty litter was highly inadvisable as the result would be a woeful lap time at best and at worst a car unable to continue with the on track session.

A pit lane speed limit was introduced following the black weekend that was the 1994 F1 Imola GP.  This resulted not from Senna or Ratzenberger’s deaths, but because four mechanics were also injured by a flying loose wheel in the pits.

Niki Lauda now believes the current regulations on pit lane speeds are unnecessary and the 80km/h maximum should be increased to 150km/h.

The Mercedes AMG chairman’s reasoning is that with the exception of Monaco and Singapore, the area outside of the garages including the ‘box’ as “as wide as freeways,” Lauda told Welt am Sonnatag.

Lauda argues to improve the spectacle of modern F1, three maxims should be applied to all possible solutions; easier, more attractive, faster. Lauda’s philosophy is that regulation and restriction is inherently the wrong approach and where possible a more laissez-faire mindset should prevail.

The current goal of the F1 strategy group is allegedly to radicalise the 2017 regulations for car design. Evolution is cheaper for teams, but Lauda argues “you cannot improve F1 without spending more.”

With a view to easing the financial burdens this will place on the smaller teams, Lauda believes “you have to provide them with less expensive engines,” adding without detail, “Mercedes is very involved in the issue.”

The topic of cost capping the prices charged for F1 engines is very much the talk of those in power at present, though it was thought Mercedes and Ferrari would resist cutting the current prices they charge their engine customers.

Speculation will now abound that Mercedes may perceive a cost capped engine would hurt Ferrari’s short term F1 business plan more than it would Brackley and Brixworth.

20 responses to “‘Raise the pit lane speed limit to 150km/h’, says Lauda

  1. The silly old fart. The teams make enough errors in sending cars out after a tyre change at the current pit lane speed. We don’t need to risk high speed collisions just to add to the show. Racing should be confined to the track.
    If Lauda wants to make F1 a better experience, he should be pushing to get rid of the 12 foot high fences surrounding the tracks and allow the spectators to get closer to the action. If kitty litter was bought back to the tracks, the chances of cars getting into spectator areas would be much reduced and clowns like Pastor the Prat wouldn’t be racing.

  2. Is increasing the pit speed limit really something F1 should be talking about right now? Aren’t there problems that should have a lot more priority than the pit speed limit?

    You would almost think that the reason Niki is saying this in order to have people talking about something else… (engine prices perhaps)

    • Classic F1. 1) Changing the weekend format, 2) Removing the pit lane speed. Fixing things not broken.

  3. I think the rationale is that if the time needed for pitting is shortened, this would open the way for more race strategies, hence, more entertainment.
    Debatable, but I don’t think this is a bad idea.

    • The follow up question then would be ‘Does increasing strategic options for the teams trump pit lane safety?’… would the team principal from a certain Italian team still be alive if the pitlane speed limit was 150 km/hr? Or maybe that’s exactly why Niki is proposing this?

      • @verstappen At the moment there is a cutoff with the power which limits the inital speed but the acceleration on a higher limited speed would be greater. Yes,I do agree the difference in that moment would not be massive but even an extra 10mph has a huge bearing in the energy of the moving object. The cars reach their top speed in a very short distance,just look at a GP start to see the difference an unlimited car has compared to the pit lane getaway. As an example,if a car reaches its limited top speed in say 20m then if the limited speed is increased then the car is still accelerating past the previous 20m mark so for arguments sake lets say it takes an extra 10m to reach the terminal speed. That will be an extra 10m of energy transmitted into the moving object( I won’t do the math its a Monday lol) to sum up and in simple terms,the car cuts power way before its needed to take into account the momentom,this stops the fines heading the teams way and that’s why the getaway is slower than a standard grid start,hope that makes sense 😉 if anyone knows different then don’t be shy,this is an area that teams can really make up time and I would love to know just how close the teams cut the ribbon.

        • Interesting, I hadn’t thought about the specific pit getaway before (I thought it was the same as the start one, hence Kimi’s spin in Canada and Austria). But it’s noticeable that the top teams have really cut down any time lost in the pits as a whole, compared to midfield and slower teams, as that efficiency can really add up.

          • Your right, the teams can make or break a drivers advantage in a stop this is why its engineered into the race event, if teams could have the tyres they wanted then pit stops would be a thing of the past. As for Kimi’s spin, the settings on the car were programed for cooler tyres and a lower torx setting on the power train rather than the start line getaway but again you have the right thought train. Kimi seems to be very sensitive with the throttle and looks to have problems when the electronic brain takes charge. It could be a failing of the car/backroom programs as its happened a couple of times in that setting for him,the judge did a great writeup just after Canada to explain this one.

  4. In general, I think his three points are good. Maybe strategist should look at an optimum – which for me would be:
    – multiple strategies possible
    – increases possibilities for strategy changes

    If 200 kph is the outcome, I can live with that. However, maybe the jackmans of this world not.

  5. Well they might as well get rid of it all together then… People have been complaining, “we don’t want refueling otw races are done in the pit lane” lol.
    A bit OOT: After Verstappen’s 17-year-old driver & point scorer records were sealed for an unforeseeable future, this might be another way to lock away another record: shortest time elapsed before gaining a penalty, speeding in the pit lane.
    Six seconds into his career: Sebastian Vettel.

  6. Niki is looking at things from a racing driver perspective. Maybe increasing the pit lane speed a bit wouldn’t be a bad idea. It increases the safety risk a bit but the cars seem like they are moving at a turtle’s pace entering and exiting the pit lane even though they are not.

    Also, on the subject of improving the show, their are differing opinions as to whether or not the ban on driver aids will have much effect. I had an idea this afternoon. Allow the pitfall/garages to collect the data from practices, qualifying, and the race but nobody can look at it until after the grand prix is over. The screens would have to be dark. The only time that they could be on is if a sensor on the car indicated that there was an emergency with the car. The radio traffic would be minimized because the engineers, etc. wouldn’t need to talk to the driver except to tell him to box or if their was a problem on the car.

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