Formula 1 race director Michael Masi says Antonio Giovinazzi losing a wheel in the Belgian Grand Prix is a “concern” and confirms an investigation is underway.
A rear wheel became detached from Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo after he spun into the barrier exiting Les Fangnes early in the Belgian GP last Sunday.
The wheel subsequently bounced back across the track and into the path of Williams driver George Russell, who was left with nowhere to go and hit it.
The issue of flying wheels was first addressed by the FIA with the introduction of tethers in 1999.
Their spec was upgraded in 2004, and again several times since, and in recent seasons it has been rare to see a wheel come off in an accident.
“Yes, it is a concern,” said Masi when asked about the incident.
“Why it became detached, I’m not 100% sure.
“But immediately once the car came back to the drop-off area our technical teams already started their investigation, taking a number of photos, and we’ve got all the available footage.
“So the FIA technical department together with the safety department will investigate why.
“I think it’s too early to draw any conclusions.
“With an incident like that I think you need to look at all the available data, and process it, and let the appropriate people have a really good look into the whole thing, the incident itself and what happened.
“And then from there actually make an educated decision rather than a knee-jerk reaction, if any improvements are required.”
Russell- who along with Giovinazzi escaped the incident unharmed – admitted it was “pretty scary” when he saw the wheel coming towards him and hopes F1 learns from this.
“I saw Antonio hit the wall,” he said.
“I managed to have a second to decide whether to go left or right, and I saw him coming out of the wall and sort of staying slightly to the right, in which case I committed to the left.
“And I think suddenly he got flicked over by one of his rear wheels and that launched across and hit my car.
“It was, for a very split second, it was pretty scary seeing that massive rear tyre flying across the circuit, with no idea where it was going to go, so I’m thankful for the halo.
“I find it more surprising how it hasn’t happened more often.
“The amount of force you hit the barriers at, you need something incredibly impressive to be able to hold it on.
“And obviously that’s what we need to work towards, because the reality is, obviously I was unfortunate for it to hit my car today, but that could hit a marshal or somebody in the crowd.
“So that’s the most important thing.
“And year on year F1 are taking massive steps in safety, and from every incident you learn the limitations, and obviously this is something that needs to be improved.”