Whiting against a minimum pit stop time


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.”

‘Game-changing’ multi-year agreement will take INDYCAR, NBC Sports ‘to the next level’


NEW YORK – As the fourth Nor’easter in three weeks bore down on the Big Apple, it was tough to spot people that were clearly in a good mood.

But Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, was clearly in a good mood.

On Wednesday morning at 10 am ET, we all found out why: NBC will become the exclusive home of the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, starting in 2019.

The new three-year deal not only makes “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” part of the network’s “Championship Season” – its collection of high-profile championship events from May to July – but also reaffirms NBC’s status as the home of motorsports television in the United States.

That status is something Miller doesn’t take for granted.

“It’s important people know that storytelling is in our DNA, and motorsports lends itself very well to storytelling,” Miller said as he, INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles and driver James Hinchcliffe made a snowy trek to the New York Stock Exchange to promote the deal on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

“We’ve had great success with the second half of the entire NASCAR season, and then we’ve had half of the IndyCar package [since 2009] … But we never had the real meat of the series and that didn’t set anybody up for success.

“Having the entire package of IndyCar now – all 17 races, qualifying, practice, you name it – really sets IndyCar on a strong path and solidifies NBC’s position as the home of motorsports. I think it becomes a property much like the Premier League, the NHL, and even the Olympics and the Triple Crown. We have 100 percent of the media opportunity and we can put all those great assets behind it.”

With the storm no doubt keeping some traders home, the floor of the NYSE was relatively subdued. But that made it no less important to be at the heart of Wall Street. Miles and his team are pursuing a new title sponsor for the IndyCar Series to replace Verizon, which will fully focus its efforts in the series with the powerhouse Team Penske going forward in 2019.

The new deal – which includes 8 races per year on the NBC network (with the remaining races going to NBCSN), live streaming of all races, and a direct-to-consumer package with NBC Sports Gold – gave Miles plenty to push for any potential backers. As for Hinchcliffe, he held his own nicely in an interview that also explored IndyCar’s global ambitions, the impact of technology on the sport, and of course, his spin around the ballroom on “Dancing with the Stars.”

On the ride back to 30 Rock, Miles was confident that NBC can play a big role in attracting a sponsor that can help the series keep growing.

“With respect to our work in finding the best title sponsor, it’s really important – and this has not been talked about much – but we expect to work with hand in glove with NBC’s sales,” he explained. “We have the opportunity to create packages which are both broadcast sponsorship and series sponsorship, I think, in a way that doesn’t come along very often.

“Usually, the media deal and the sponsorship deal doesn’t align like this, so we’re really excited about the offering we’ll have and the approach to the market we can take.”

Should the partnership with NBC bear fruit on that front and others, it will only add to the upswing that the IndyCar Series has had in recent years.

Hinchcliffe has been a witness to that. He entered the series in 2011, when it was trying to find its footing after the sport’s reunification three years earlier. After 13 years of CART vs. the Indy Racing League, getting everything back under one roof was not a smooth process.

But fast-forward seven years, and things have changed for the better. TV ratings and digital viewers have gone up. Race scheduling has become more stable and enhanced with the return of traditional open-wheel markets. And this year’s debut of the universal aero kit aims to pump up the action on the track, while also giving the cars a cleaner, meaner look.

Now, with NBC all in, Hinchcliffe is bullish on his sport’s future.

“This is a game-changing thing for us,” he declared. “If you look at the last four or five years, we’ve seen a steady growth in pretty much every measureable metric that there is – in a time where, globally, motorsports is in a bit of a downturn.

“The fact that IndyCar was able to rally against a global dip in motorsports interest, attendance, sponsorship – it speaks volumes to what we have been doing and this is just gonna take us to that next level.”