After Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the world of Formula 1 was plunged into controversy, as an unexpected post-race investigation by the FIA, Formula 1’s governing body, sent shockwaves through the paddock. This incident, now famously dubbed ‘Goggle-Gate,’ centered around a series of alleged violations of Article 34.13 by all the participating teams.
Article 34.13, a regulation that typically flies under the radar, was brought to the forefront following a meticulous inquiry. This investigation, prompted by concerns raised during the race, brought six prominent drivers under scrutiny. Among them were none other than the newly crowned Formula 1 World Champion, Max Verstappen, and the legendary seven-time titleholder, Lewis Hamilton. Joining them were the Williams duo of Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant, along with Alpine’s talented driver, Pierre Gasly, and Alfa Romeo’s rising star, Zhou Guanyu.
The crux of ‘Goggle-Gate’ revolved around an alarming revelation—the pit crews of all ten Formula 1 teams subjected to investigation were found to be in violation of Article 34.13. This regulation mandates the use of eye protection during pit operations for safety reasons. However, it was evident that this crucial safety measure was overlooked during the high-pressure environment of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
In the wake of this startling discovery, the stewards of the race took swift action, summoning the team managers of all ten outfits to account for the lapses in adherence to Article 34.13. The stewards, after a thorough evaluation of the available video evidence, reached a consensus that several breaches had indeed occurred. However, they also noted that the footage did not provide the absolute clarity required to assign blame definitively.
In conclusion, ‘Goggle-Gate’ has left the Formula 1 community in a state of intrigue and debate. The investigation’s outcome remains uncertain, but it serves as a stark reminder of the importance of safety regulations in the high-speed world of Formula 1. As the dust settles on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the sport’s governing body, FIA, faces the challenging task of ensuring that such breaches do not recur in future races.
While refraining from imposing penalties on any of the teams involved, the stewards issued clear directives for immediate action. They have mandated that all personnel participating in pit operations must wear eye protection, and this rule must be strictly observed by every member of the respective teams moving forward. The stewards articulated their conclusions through the following statement:
“Having received reports from the Race Director and viewed video evidence, written reports from Pit Marshals and heard from each of the Team Representatives, the Stewards determine that numerous breaches of Article 34.13 appear to have occurred however the video evidence was in some cases insufficiently clear to determine where for example, a visor was open, the team member concerned may have been wearing glasses or other eye protection.
“Notwithstanding, there were numerous examples of eye protection not being used.”
Prior to the stewards’ verdict, Sky F1’s pitlane reporter Ted Kravitz, who humorously coined the incident as ‘goggle-gate,’ provided clarifications:
“It’s Article 34.13 and it says ‘team personnel have to wear an approved helmet and the use of appropriate eye protection is compulsory’.
“Certainly on the clip that we’ve seen from Red Bull, you can see that the chief mechanic whose giving the green light or no-go, has his visor up.
“Now Red Bull and the other teams will argue, I’m sure, that all the operational mechanics, ie the ones on the guns for wheel off and wheel on, are wearing appropriate eye protection in that they’ve got their visor down.
“Jonathan Wheatley will certainly argue that that fellow was not an operational part of the pit stop and therefore the eye protection does not apply to him.
“All the other teams are saying, ‘look, the ones who do need to have their visor down, have their visor down’.
“But it’s interesting that all of the team managers, even the ones that weren’t noted in the race, have been summoned to see the stewards,
“There will likely be a fine for those who the FIA decide were naughty, and a let-off for those who weren’t.”