Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

What about those who really matter? - The introduction of KERS has raised some important questions about safety

Published by Christine

Will Rob be safe out there?
Will Rob be safe out there?Credit: Ferrari s.P.a

From what we know about KERS, as long as everything is going to plan, it's all fine. That's true for a lot of things, I suppose, but when it comes to storing electricity, it becomes slightly worrying. Many of the questions we've been asking, quite rightly, concentrate on how safe the drivers will be, as they navigate the circuit on a race weekend. When it all goes wrong, and the car breaks down, then a lot more people get involved. How safe are they?

Picture the scene: A race weekend. The cars leave the pits and meander to the grid. Presumably there is no KERS involved here, or the scrum of people who appear during the grid walk will all have to wear protective clothing. Bernie wouldn't want to entertain the King of somewhere with rubber boots on, would he?

The grid clears, and they head off on the formation lap. But Massa has stalled. What happens then? Is he safe to be pushed?

The lights go out, the race begins. Rob is sitting on the pit wall, giving Massa directions over the pit-to-car radio. However, poor Felipe isn't having a good day and the car pulls to a stop. He has to jump out (possibly literally). When the marshals come over to move the car, are they allowed to touch it? We've seen mechanics with the big protective gloves on, perhaps the marshals will get these as well. How does it work when it comes to getting the car on the crane and returning it to the pit lane? Will the marshals in Singapore be able to cope with these new demands?

Perhaps the situation turns out slightly different, and Massa has managed to get the Ferrari back to the pits. He heads down the pit lane and stops in the box. It's going to take the mechanics a few minutes to get the car going again, and Massa has to wait. Presumably, Rob won't be wearing the big overalls and gloves, so is there no possibility of him leaving the pit wall and approaching the car, or dashing into the garage?

Standing nearby, Ted Kravitz is reporting for the BBC. He has his fireproof overalls on, but presumably can't hold a microphone with the big gloves on. Chances are, he's not going anywhere near the car, but things happen. How much danger is he in? And the camera operators, who clearly have to get much nearer to the cars than the pit reporter does?

Since it’s introduction, we’ve had a fire at the Red Bull factory, a BMW mechanic has been injured, and terrifying electricity warnings have appeared up and down the pit lane. It may all be as safe as houses, but no one is talking about it and all we’ve got to go on are the things we can spy from testing photographs. The concern about KERS won’t abate until we get some answers to our questions. It’s all very well the powers that be telling us everything will be fine, but if they were even slightly more transparent about the safety concerns, then we’d stop asking.

Back when Coulthard was discussing testing a car with KERS on, he laughed and said he was ordering a full-body suit made out of rubber. I thought he was joking.