The Hungarian Grand Prix saw yet more worrying failures of Formula 1’s important equipment.
The timing glitches that struck the German Grand Prix returned at the Hungaroring. Seemingly, despite the clear evidence that Kimi Räikkönen’s car had a faulty transponder, no-one decided to check it out.
So Räikkönen’s times for sector 2 and sector 3 were not recorded, he tumbled down the timing screen a couple of times before re-appearing in his proper position and his first pitstop didn’t properly register at first. Nor did he appear on the lap chart, as you can see by clicking here and launching the live timing archive.
More worryingly, though, no fewer than four teams had major problems with their refuelling equipment during the Hungarian Grand Prix. Fuel rigs are standardised and supplied by the FIA. The multiple failures occurred despite the fact that there were no new parts used in the refuelling process.
Of course, it could be just a coincidence. Flash fires in the pitlane do happen from time to time. Usually, however, you see two or three a year — not three within five minutes of each other. Sébastien Bourdais’s Toro Rosso, Kazuki Nakajima’s Williams and Rubens Barrichello’s Honda all briefly caught fire as the fuel hose was coming off. Meanwhile, Timo Glock lost around 15 seconds due to a fuel rig that did not fit his car properly.
One widely suggested explanation is that the heat in Hungary either changed the shape of the fuel hose enough so that it did not fit properly, or that the fuel expanded in the heat causing it to overflow. However, this explanation does not quite seem right as there are hotter races during the year, notably in Malaysia.
Whatever, this essential equipment ought to be designed to cope with ambient temperatures of 32 °C. This was the highest temperature recorded by FOM’s equipment during the race, and it does not strike me as overly hot for a summer in the middle of a continent towards the south of Europe.
A cheeky suggestion put forward by Ian Phillips during The Inside Line podcast is that flames are good for viewing figures. That is going a bit far even for Bernie though.
More seriously, this is quite a serious safety concern. Although the fires were small and all immediately extinguished, this sort of thing should not be happening. The FIA should get to the bottom of what on earth was going on during the Hungarian Grand Prix.