British McLaren star Lando Norris experienced a heart-stopping moment during the Miami Grand Prix when he narrowly avoided striking a person walking through the pit lane.
The incident occurred just days after the FIA issued a rules crackdown in an effort to improve safety in the pitlane.
Norris was only meters away from hitting the man as he drove into the pitlane for his scheduled stop.
The situation was made even more dangerous by a blind corner on the entrance to the pitlane, which left the individual unnoticed until the last possible moment.
Norris managed to adjust his steering movements at the final second, thankfully avoiding a serious accident.
Images from Norris’ onboard camera later surfaced on social media, highlighting the severity of the near miss.
Recent Pitlane Safety Concerns
This scary incident in Miami comes just a week after Alpine driver Esteban Ocon faced a similar situation at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Ocon, who started from the pitlane and finished in fifteenth position, was required to make a pit stop on the last lap.
To his surprise, photographers and other paddock members were already in the pitlane, preparing for the podium celebration.
Ocon expressed his confusion and concern over the situation, stating, “I don’t understand why we are starting to prepare the podium and the ceremony when we are still racing, there is one lap to go and there are still people who didn’t pit.
The French driver had a close call as he had to avoid hitting barriers and people at nearly 100 km/h. He emphasized that this should be a topic of discussion, as it’s something nobody wants to see in the sport.
FIA Takes Action
Following these two near-miss incidents in quick succession, the FIA announced an investigation into the pitlane safety protocols.
They summoned their staff responsible for managing the parc ferme area at pit entry to report to the stewards. Ocon described the situation as a “crazy moment” that could have ended in disaster, saying, “If I miss the braking point, it is a big disaster, so that is a crazy moment.”
As a result, the FIA called for immediate changes to the end-of-race pitlane protocol. With input from Formula One Management and the FIA, necessary steps were taken to prevent similar occurrences in the future.
The new rule states that team mechanics and VIPs are not permitted to enter the pit lane until after the last car has taken the chequered flag.
Any infringement will result in the removal of passes from the team(s) in question from subsequent events and potential reporting of the infringing team(s) to the stewards.
My Take on Pitlane Safety
As a fan of the sport, it’s concerning to see these close call incidents happening in the pitlane.
While the FIA’s recent rule changes are a step in the right direction, it’s crucial that all involved parties continue to prioritize safety and proper protocols.
The sport’s appeal lies in its high-speed action and intense competition, but it’s vital that the safety of everyone involved – from the drivers to team personnel and media members – is always at the forefront.