BARCELONA (Reuters) - Formula One drivers fear that a simple, throwaway strip of plastic film could land them in trouble and they do not know how to handle it.
The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) plans to enforce a long-ignored rule, buried in an appendix to the sporting code, on the disposable tear-off strips that drivers have on the visors of their helmets.
The rule bars drivers from throwing such ‘tear-offs’ onto the track or pit lane.
The crackdown had been due to start at Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix but was postponed to the following race in Monaco on May 29 after teams and drivers said they needed more time.
FIA race director Charlie Whiting said teams would try out various possible solutions during testing in Barcelona next week.
The strips are designed to be torn away during a race so that the driver’s vision is not restricted by smears of grease or dirt. Some drivers start with nine or 10, ripping them off as the laps unfold.
However the debris can cause accidents if caught in a brake duct, something that is of particular concern at tight street circuits like Monaco.
“Honestly, I don’t see any solution. Unless you put a glove box in the car,” joked French driver Romain Grosjean, who races for the new U.S.-owned Haas team.
Grosjean said he had tried to keep the tear-offs in the cockpit, being under the misapprehension that the rule was already being enforced.
“It’s a disaster,” he said. “I don’t know what we are going to do. We tried to put tape on the side of the chassis but once you’ve taped one, where does the next one go? I remove four to five in a race.”
Mexican Sergio Perez agreed with Grosjean.
“We were discussing the other day at the drivers’ briefing, how can you survive with one tear-off for the entire race? In the first three laps you probably throw three already,” said the Force India driver.
“Sometimes they break ... so you have to go for the other side, and at the same time you have to change gear or you hit the limiter. If it’s what we have to do and put it somewhere in the car ... but where?
“I don’t really know how we are going to do it ... I think the FIA has to think of another alternative.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Catherine Evans