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Formula One body imposes pitlane clampdown

Formula One chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe (L) looks on next to Formula One commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone during the Monaco F1 Grand
Formula One chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe (L) looks on next to Formula One commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone during the Monaco F1 Grand

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One's governing body ordered an immediate clampdown on access to the pitlane on Tuesday after a television cameraman was struck and injured by a bouncing wheel at last weekend's German Grand Prix.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement that only authorized team personnel and event marshals would be allowed to work in the pitlane during qualifying sessions and the race.

"Access for approved media will be confined to the pit wall," it stated.

British cameraman Paul Allen suffered a broken collarbone and fractured ribs in the incident when Australian Mark Webber pulled away from the Red Bull pits without the car's rear right wheel being properly attached.

The wheel, weighing some 10 kg, then flew off and bounced down the pitlane, missing Mercedes mechanics before hitting Allen on the back.

The cameraman was flown to hospital where he is expected to make a full recovery.

The incident triggered a fresh focus on Formula One safety after a spate of tire explosions during the previous British Grand Prix saw debris thrown up in the path of drivers, who arrived in Germany threatening a boycott.

The governing body said FIA president Jean Todt, a former Ferrari team principal, had demanded immediate changes to the sporting regulations in order to reduce the risk of similar pitlane accidents.

"The FIA today informed teams that the approval of the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) will immediately be sought for two changes to the Sporting Regulations. Both of these changes have already been approved for 2014," it said.

The first change requires all team personnel working on a car during a pitstop to wear head protection, already a common practice for mechanics.

The second will reduce the pit lane speed limit during races from 100kph to 80kph, with the exception of Melbourne, Monaco and Singapore where due to track configuration the limit is 60kph.

The FIA said they were expecting champions Red Bull to submit a written report about the Nuerburgring incident on Wednesday. The report will be shared with the other 10 teams to help improve pit lane safety.

(Editing by John Mehaffey)

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