F1 to increase wheel tethers

A second wheel tether will be added in F1 for 2011 to improve safety
Qualifying, Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA), Force India F1 Team, VJM03
Qualifying, Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA), Force India F1 Team, VJM03

The number of wheel tethers used in F1 is set to increase next year in an effort to reduce the risk of wheels coming away from cars and to improve the safety of the sport.

Currently, cars are fitted with a tether to each wheel is meant to prevent a wheel from detaching itself from a car in the event of an accident.

However, that hasn't stopped a number of incidents from occurring this season, with Sebastien Buemi losing both front wheels in practice in China, Fernando Alonso losing a wheel from his Ferrari in Monaco and Tonio Liuzzi ending up with only three wheels on his Force India following his qualifying accident at Hockenheim last weekend.

Those incidents followed on from the fatal F2 accident at Brands Hatch last season that claimed the life of Henry Surtees after he was struck on the head by a loose wheel that had broken away from a car in front of him on track and McLaren engineering director Paddy Lowe admitted there was a need for change.

"Tethers are of great concern to us," he said during the latest Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. "We had of course the very tragic death last year of Henry Surtees. We also see wheels coming off Formula One cars more rather more often than we would like or than was intended when they were introduced. The wheel tethers we have are working but they're not reliable enough. One came off Alonso in Monaco, and at the weekend just gone one came off Liuzzi's car."

Lowe confirmed that the FIA's Technical Working Group has agreed that changes to wheel tethers will now be made, with those changes to come into play from 2011.

"We discussed the issue at the Technical Working Group and we have agreed for next year to introduce a second tether on every corner," he said. "Rather than make each tether 100 per cent reliable, we've found when they don't work they've been cut for some reason due to the nature of the accident.

"Our thinking is if you put two tethers on each corner, which are rung independently - one say on the top wishbone, the other on the bottom wishbone - then we're going to drastically improve the probability that one or both tethers will survive."

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