Red Bull fined for incident that injured cameraman during German GP

Screen grabs courtesy FOM

Screen grabs courtesy FOM

A television cameraman was taken to hospital by helicopter after being struck by a wheel which came off Mark Webber’s Red Bull during a pitstop in the early stages of the German Grand Prix, after which the world champions were fined € 30 000 for an unsafe pit release.

Formula 1 safety has been in the headlines since multiple tyre blow-outs at last weekend’s British Grand Prix raised fears about drivers being hit by flying debris, and Sunday’s incident will fuel concern about pitlane dangers.

While teams’ pit crew routinely wear protective headgear, many others working in the pitlane during the race do not.

Webber came into the pits for a routine tyre change after nine laps but his crew took longer than usual because of a problem with the rear right tyre.

The Australian was released without the wheel being secured properly. It broke free and bounced into the oblivious cameraman, knocking him flat on his back.

“Paul Allen was hit on the lefthand side. Remaining conscious, he was treated at the circuit medical centre and then transported by helicopter to Koblenz Hospital,” the governing FIA said in a statement, adding that the cameraman was from F1’s commercial arm.

“The Briton was kept there, under observation.”

BBC radio reported he had some chest pain and concussion.

Webber was ordered by his team to turn off his engine while his car was pushed back to the Red Bull pitbox. The wheel was reattached, allowing him to rejoin the race near the back of the field. He finished seventh. (Reuters)

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  • McLarenfan

    Still not sure why Webber was allowed to rejoin then un-lap himself

  • Robert Belden

    I hope that the camera man will make a full recovery but, I wonder if the pit stops have become too fast to be safe? Does it really take 3 men to change one tire? Was there team politics that came into play for Webbers pitstop? I hope not, because the previous pit Vettel was in and out clean.

  • Sean

    @Robert Belden

    I completely agree with you! I’m a hardened race fan, and F1 is, above all else, about speed! Odd these days as the tyres actually slow the cars down, but anyway, you’ll get my point I hope.

    Sitting watching the pit stops we can see instantly if there is even a few tenths of a difference, so it’s a visable, but very small difference that could cost a place, or even a win! … but it should never cost a life! A few centimetres higher and it would have been a full force flying well to the head, and likely a much different story.

    The injury figures overall is a testament to the safety in F1 that the for such a dangers environment, there is very little that could be classed as serious, and the facilities are superb, but I’m leaning very strongly towards the view that it is too quick, and with that pressure when mistakes happen they are usually pretty spectacular!

    Wishing the camera man a very quick and full recovery.

  • KC

    Webber pulled away early while the wheelman was still at work. It remains to be seen exactly WHY he did that, but the conspiracy talk is just nuts.

    I’m relieved that nobody was killed or seriously injured.

    “the previous pit Vettel was in and out clean.”

    Different pit crews work on each car, so that in itself tells you nothing.


    I wonder you is going to get the money? hahaaha Bernie? I hope they give the 30,000 to the camera man…but I bet he doesn’t see a penny!

  • grat

    @KC: Webber pulled away because they dropped the car off the jacks. The driver has to trust that the team knows what it’s doing, but obviously, the signals got crossed. The car shouldn’t have been dropped.

    @McLarenFan: Yeah, I’m not sure why the safety car waited so Webber could make up an entire lap– Doesn’t really seem fair to let a car unlap itself and essentially run an entire lap at speed while the rest of the field is held up behind the safety car. I have no problem with unlapping, but once Webber passed the safety car, it should have gone in at the end of that lap, rather than waiting.

  • McLarenfan

    @grat: exactly by the time he had done that lap his tyres were back to temperature his brakes back to temperature and to be honest any other car with three wheels is not allowed to re join, punctures and blown tyres making their way to the pits is ok but all cars who lose a wheel have always been out of the race.
    Webber was released not a case of driver error.
    The camera man has broken collar bone broken ribs and is a member of FOM TV I think he will be up for a big chunk of Bernie change.

  • Bert

    @ McLarenfan
    When the safty car is out….anyone one lap or more behind is allowed to overtake the safty car and therefore can catch up with the rest.And to …KC… Webber did not take off early…He would have run down the guy standing in front of him….The one who lifts the car to fit the front wheels. LOL The stuffed around with that wheel for a while before they put it on.I recorded the race.They had a problem putting in on in the first place.No one should blame Webber for it.

  • Nemo

    @McLarenfan, lapped car the rule has been in since 2012, its nothing new. Obviously, it is there to get lapped cars out of the way of the leaders. In cases like Webber, yes there is a slight advantage. But given that choice, no leading car would opt for that situation. Re the lost wheel, Webber rejoined because he wasnt far from his pitbox. He kept it running, & they pushed it back. Other cars can always drive back to the pits, but they can incur a lot of floor damage, for little advantage. Imo, it was a great call by RBR

  • Bert

    The only thing I query is …Why did the safty car take so long… a few laps …to get off? There was nothing on the track !! The car that rolled back was way off the track.

  • Sunshine117

    Bert and grat are right. Webber has no idea what is going on in the pits. I mean, all he can do is look in the mirrors and shake his head at his team for taking so long like every other driver does. It’s not like Webber can stick his head out to look around. As grat said it’s the pit crew that are in control there, as soon as Webber’s tires hit the ground Webber knows it’s safe to go. The guys holding Webber’s car off the ground should not have dropped him, making webber think it’s go time. So it’s not Webber’s fault at all. But I’m just repeating what has already been said.

    I think the team where in the heat of the moment to move quickly because Webber was in such good position. Vettel was leading but had Hamilton (or was it Grosjean? I can’t remember) right behind him. The team were trying to get Webber out fast to cover for whoever was behind Vettel and therefore a possible 1 2 finish for the team.

  • KC

    Bert, I’m not blaming Webbe”, I’m pointing out that the conspiracy theories are crazy.

    The drivers in the pits are controlled by lights, not by the jacks. If Webber had the green light to go then whoever released him was at fault.