Cameramen for FOM (Formula One Management) will be stationed on the pitwall from now on following yesterday’s German Grand Prix which saw a cameraman injured.
The man, identified as Briton Paul Allen was lucky to escape with his life when Mark Webber’s Pirelli worked itself loose following a botched pitstop before crossing the pitlane, launching into the air and striking Allen on the upper body.
Unlike the Robocop-esque protection the pit crew wear, cameramen wear nothing more than a shirt and trousers, and so Allen had no protection from the flying 16kg Pirelli. He was treated on-scene by doctors before being airlifted to hospital where he is “expected to make a full recovery”.
Six cameramen and six photographers are the only FOM men allowed in the pitlane during sessions, although the photographers must remain on the pitwall. The cameramen on the other hand are allowed to mingle with the pit crew – putting them in the heat of the action and subsequently directly in the line of fire should something go wrong.
Today however, Bernie Ecclestone has said that all FOM personal will remain on the pitwall during sessions: “I’ve been in close contact with everybody who has been dealing with the matter.
“It’s a terrible thing to say, but it was just one of those things. There was a whole bunch of mechanics and the tyre could have hit any one of those guys. The cameraman just happened to be looking the wrong way at the wrong time. In future, all our camera crews will only be allowed to film from the pit wall.”
Other suggestions included FOM workers wearing similar protection to the pit crew, but this carries certain disadvantages such as limited mobility and reduced vision.