Formula 1 Management camera crews are to be stationed on the pit wall for future races after a cameraman was injured after being hit by a bouncing wheel in Sunday’s German Grand Prix.
The edict comes from F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who runs FOM, in light of one of his employees, Paul Allen, being treated in Koblenz hospital after sustaining a broken collarbone and two broken ribs.
The incident occurred early in the race at the Nurburgring, with Allen struck by a wheel that had worked loose off Mark Webber’s Red Bull as the Australian pulled out of his pit box.
The wheel initially bounced past several startled mechanics in the Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes pit crews before thudding into an unaware Allen.
At present, rules allow up to a maximum of six FOM camera crews only unlimited pitlane access during qualifying and the race. In addition, six photographers are allowed to take photographs from the pit wall.
From the Hungarian Grand Prix onwards in just under three weeks’ time, those photographers will now be joined by the camera crews.
Ecclestone said: “It’s a terrible thing to say, but it was just one of those things.
“There was a whole bunch of mechanics and the tyre could have hit any one of those guys. The cameraman just happened to be looking the wrong way at the wrong time. In future, all our camera crews will only be allowed to film from the pit wall.”
Following the incident, team bosses Christian Horner and Ross Brawn advocated the use of safety equipment for all those working in the pitlane whilst a race is ongoing.
As from next year it will be mandatory for all team personnel working on a car in a pit stop to wear head protection, paving the way to the suggestion others should follow suit.
Mercedes team principal Brawn said: “On the basis of what we have seen we should be thinking that all people in the pitlane are properly dressed and equipped. Everyone in the pitlane should have a helmet on. It is certainly worth reviewing the whole thing.”
Red Bull boss Horner, whose team were fined £26,800 for an unsafe release, is of the same mind as Brawn. “Mechanics have to wear safety gear and helmets, and maybe it’s time some of the other operational people in the pitlane have some safety equipment as well,” said Horner.
It is something the FIA and Ecclestone may look into. “If the camera guys are on the pit wall, then that’s normally higher than the track,” added Ecclestone.
“Of course, the same thing could still happen in the end. In reality a wheel could come off and bounce down the pit lane.”