Vital queries have been raised following Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene said in a press conference that the problem was with “the electronic device that gives the green light” to the driver to go.
Some competitors team took this to mean that the pit-gantry light was triggered by sensors on the wheel and/or wheel guns. And that would be a breaking of the technical regulations, which say that on the wheel assembly “sensor systems may only act passively”.
Ferrari spokesman insisted to BBC Sport that the process was “not fully automatic” and that a sensor failure was not to blame.
Ferrari have prepared a document to be circulated among the teams that explains what went wrong – blaming a series of human errors. It says the following:
Ferrari’s wheel guns have sensors to measure both the tightness of the nut and the distance it has moved on to the wheel. But in Raikkonen’s stop the mechanic on the left rear wheel missed the nut, but pressed the gun to undo it. He put the gun back on the nut to have another go but reversed the direction to tighten. That meant the system registered the nut as undone, then tightened and in the right place. So the sensor assumed the wheel had been changed when it hadn’t, and gave the all-clear.
The rear jack man and overall pit stop controller both hold buttons down which they release to turn the pit light to green. Both did this despite the problem on the left rear. The rear jack man didn’t notice the wheel hadn’t been changed and the controller was unsighted and did not see that corner of the car.
The mechanic who was injured, Francesco Cigorini, was standing with his left leg in front of the wheel, so was caught by the car when Raikkonen accelerated away
Ferrari are to add an extra observer with an over-ride button in an attempt to ensure such a conflation of circumstances cannot happen again.
Governing body the FIA is satisfied with this explanation.
Early team boss Arrivabene revealed that Ferrari had conducted a review into the procedure together with the FIA to determine why the system gave Raikkonen the signal to go when the left-rear wheel had not been changed.
“The team was hurt that a person was injured, so it was in our interest to review the overall procedure,” he said when asked by Autosport to explain what happened.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT. Footage shows the crew member’s leg buckling after he was hit during Bahrain race
“We have a procedure to ensure the pitstops during the race are done as safely as possible.
“In this case we have three factors: human control [the pit crew members], mechanical [the wheel gun] and an electronic device [a sensor to determine a properly attached wheel].”
Arrivabene said this led to the “mishandling of the rear left” as it was “not perfectly read by the electronic device, which gave the green light”.
Autosport learned and understand – the system is designed to check whether a wheel is securely fitted and whether the wheel gun has been sufficiently active.
As the old wheel was not removed, and the gun was disengaged and then re-engaged to try again, the system registered it as a completed wheel change and gave Raikkonen the green light.
Arrivabene said he spoke regularly with Francesco Cigarini this week and that his employee is now recovering at home in Italy after his initial care in Bahrain.
“I would like to thank our team doctor, the FIA medical staff and also the authority of Bahrain that granted to us immediately the best doctor in Bahrain to do the surgery,” Arrivabene added.
“They were assisting us 24 hours [a day], literally, so thanks to all of them.”