All Formula E teams will have at least one set of endurance racing style seatbelts per driver for the first Formula E race to not feature a minimum pit stop time in Santiago next weekend.
The move comes after the FIA deferred an original decision to do away with the holding time from the last round at Marrakesh by one race. The abolition of the minimum stop time was rescinded after teams lobbied the FIA over the move amid widespread safety concerns.
Spark Technologies will provide all teams with at least one set of the OMP manufactured belts per driver to use on their nominated second race cars. The French company, which supplies spares and components to all Formula E teams, is ultimately aiming to source forty pairs in total, but e-racing365 understands that at least 20 is guaranteed this weekend to ensure each driver has one set.
The belts feature a different mechanism to the regular single-seater ones which have a buckle located on the actual crutch-strap rather than having to be threaded through two belt loops.
In theory this should make the application of the belting up procedure quicker and safer to complete.
Some teams have had a set already supplied so they can practice on their test cars before heading out to Santiago. One of these is the DS Virgin squad whose Team Manger, Leon Price, told e-racing365 that “all efforts to meet the best safety practices will be met.”
“We’ve bought all the crew that are involved in the pit stops some winter sports style helmets,” added Price.
DS Virgin was at the center of a pit incident in Hong Kong last December. This was when Sam Bird slithered in to a Magneti Marelli engineer after losing control on the dusty pit apron.
Another less well publicised incident took place at the 2016 Mexico City e-Prix when experienced Andretti Team Manager Rob Arnott was struck by Jean-Eric Vergne who was then driving for DS Virgin.
“We all saw the incident in Mexico when Rob got hit. He was lucky that he didn’t land on his head, so we have to take the welfare of all personnel very seriously,” said Price.
In addition to ensuring that the safety elements of the stops are tightened, Price also described the crucial performance advantages of perfecting them.
“We have to get the choreography right, and getting comfortable with a modified procedure,” he said.
“The timing is now going to be crucial as there is a lot more scope now to lose time and track position so it will be like a tire stop now in terms of getting everything just right.”
“We will practice a lot and I think you will see more live stops during the practice sessions.
“I don’t think the pit entry will change too much. But I think the big thing is going to be policing everything. We’ve seen before more than the allocated two people helping in the stops before and nothing has been done, so let’s hope it can all be controlled correctly.”