The Renault F1 team raised a few safety concerns with the FIA. As it turned out, during practice in Hungary, a few marshals were spotted handling Nico Hulkenberg’s car. But the difference was that they were not using protective gloves to roll the stricken car away.
Hulkenberg’s energy store suffered a total electrical failure as a result of a short circuit in the first practice session. Because of this, the team were unsure if it posed a danger to anyone touching it.
In the meantime, Hulkenberg exited the car quickly, to avoid the risk of an electric shock. But team members noticed that some of the attending marshals were without protective gloves. They promptly alerted FIA race director Charlie Whiting on their findings.
According to Renault technical director Nick Chester, the marshals began pushing the car immediately. When they radioed Whiting, they confessed that they did not know the condition of the car. This was because the car had died completely and they were going in blind without data.
But the marshals had already been handling the car. Fortunately, a major crisis was averted as the car wasn’t live. Usually, marshals are expected to wear gloves that can withstand charges of up to 1,000 volts. Especially when it comes to handling stalled cars.
Fortunately, Renault was able to repair Hulkenberg’s car to run during the second practice session.
“It’s quite a long job because when the energy store failed it also damaged some of the looms on the car, and then we had to check out the MGU-K, the MGU-H, meter them all, check they weren’t damaged. At one point we thought we were going to have to change them and then we wouldn’t have run [the rest of the day].
“The guys did a good job because there was a lot of work, it was engine off, check everything, gearbox change as well because when you lose the energy store you lose control of the gearbox and you can damage the gearbox, which we did, so we had to change the gearbox.”