Whiting against a minimum pit stop time

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Formula One race director Charlie Whiting believes that the idea of introducing a minimum time for pit stops would be a bad idea, even if it would improve safety standards.

Concerns about safety standards in the pit lane arose at the German Grand Prix when an FOM cameraman was struck by a loose wheel from Mark Webber’s Red Bull car. Therefore, the idea of introducing a minimum pit stop time to ensure that all parts are fitted correctly was proposed, but Whiting confirmed that it is very unlikely to happen.

“It’s been discussed but it’s not something that’s likely to happen, definitely not,” Whiting said. “I think that would be a bad move and I don’t think it would achieve anything. I think obviously the incident with Mark Webber’s wheel in the Nurburgring started quite a lot of discussion.

“It’s all driven by the quest for speed, but I don’t think if you had a mandatory minimum pit stop time it would change anything. They would still change the wheels quickly and you’d have the rather odd sight of a car just sitting there for the rest of the time.”

For Whiting, the problem is the actual system, not the time that is taken to change the wheels on an F1 car.

“I think what we’ve got to address is the fundamental problem and that is why did that wheel not get fixed on properly?That’s really what we want to do. And why was the car released in an unsafe condition? So what we’ve done since then is to introduce mandatory two stage wheel retention devices on the wheel nuts.”

Whiting, who was speaking in a wide-ranging lecture on safety in Formula One, explained the new systems that are in place to prevent a repeat of the incident at the Nurburgring.

“We have made it compulsory to have the button on the gun has to be in a position where the operator has to make a distinct move to say “yes I’m done” where before they could just slide their thumb across and just say I’m done. Each gun has a button which the operator presses to say he’s done so then the jack men get two green lights on the end of the car, drop the car, then the guy releasing the car sees two green jacks.

“We’ve also introduced an override on the pit wall which is saying that nothing can happen until he takes his finger off the button as well.”

Red Bull rising into the form expected when the season began

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Young “Mad Max” Verstappen had plenty to be angry about for the first half of the Formula One season. After his breakout season in 2016, this year had been little more than a rash of retirements, crashes and clashes with other drivers.

But a late burst over the last two races delivered his second career victory and a second-place. Those results have Red Bull rising and looking more like the fast and muscular team it was expected to be.

Verstappen and teammate Daniel Ricciardo now look primed to keep pushing for the front over the final four races of 2017, starting this week at the U.S. Grand Prix. Do that and the prospects for a 2018 title fight grow brighter.

“We’re definitely going the way we need to be going,” Ricciardo said. “If we start on the front foot, I genuinely believe we can fight for the title if we start closer. That’s what we’re aiming for.”

Verstappen’s win in Malaysia demonstrated a perfect marriage of the young Dutchman’s driving skill and his improving car when he beat Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton with a head-to-head pass early. He was on the podium again a week later in Japan. The champagne spray at both races was a tasty but dry reminder that Red Bull wanted – and expected – so much more this season.

While Ricciardo has been a workhorse with nine podiums and one victory, Verstappen’s season was crippled by reliability issues with his car or crashes.

“There were so many races this year when he was in a fantastic position to achieve big results,” team principal Christian Horner said this week. “Credit to him that at such a young age he hasn’t let frustration boil over … when it comes right for him, it’s going to come right in a big way. And that’s exactly what happened in Malaysia. He drove a great race there, with no issues.”

Some of the “issues” created internal tension.

The first lap of the Hungarian Grand Prix was a disaster for Red Bull. Verstappen tried to overtake Ricciardo and hit him, knocking Ricciardo out of the race while Verstappen finished fifth. Ricciardo lashed out at Verstappen as “immature” and criticized the “amateur” maneuver.

Verstappen said he can’t think about what happened early in the season.

“That frustration I put behind me,” Verstappen said. “It happened. You can’t change it anymore. You’re just happy that it’s going well again and we had some good results.”

Ricciardo has carried Red Bull to the podium time and again but his broad smile hasn’t beamed from the top spot since Azerbaijan in June. Despite his run of strong finishes, he’s stuck at fourth in the driver’s standings and needs a boost to overtake Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas for third.

The Circuit of the Americas has been good for both Red Bull drivers in the past. Ricciardo finished third here in 2014 and 2016. Verstappen had an attention-getting drive in 2015 when he finished fourth in his Toro Rosso after sloshing his way through the field on a wet track.

Verstappen had a wild race in 2016 when he challenged for the lead early, came in for a pit stop when the crew wasn’t ready and yelled to his garage: “I’m not here to finish fourth!” He didn’t finish at all when his car was knocked out with a gearbox problem on lap 32.

Verstappen was 17 when he joined the F1 grid as the youngest driver in series history and he still jokes about his age. Austin is known for its live music and nightlife, but he’s limited as to how much he can party away from the track.

“I’m only 20. I can’t drink,” Verstappen said. “If I’m on the podium (Sunday) I won’t care.”