F1 Rules: All mechanics are forbidden from staying on track 15 seconds before the start of a race. Did you know when and why was this rule introduced?
The rule was implemented in 1981 after the Belgian Grand Prix held in Zolder. In Friday practice, a mechanic from the Osella team stumbled off the pitwall and Carlos Reutemann couldn’t avoid him. He suffered a fractured skull and sadly passed away two days later.
Before the start of the race, mechanics of all teams staged a protest. They were joined by several drivers who left their cars parked on the grid. However, the race organizers allowed the warm-up lap to start without them, leaving several cars stopped on track. When the grid formed up again, Nelson Piquet missed his starting position and was sent round on another lap, with the other cars held in position.
As they were waiting for Piquet to finish the lap, a few drivers turned off their engines. As the race got under way, Patrese couldn’t start his car. His mechanic came onto the track to restart the car from behind but Patrese’s teammate, Siegfried Stohr, ploughed into the back of the car, hitting the mechanic. He suffered a broken leg and lacerations but survived.
Surprisingly, the race continued - with marshals and Stohr’s car still on the track.
As a result of these incidents, the rule was introduced on safety grounds.