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Tearing hurry could land F1 drivers in trouble

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Helmets for different weather conditions belonging to Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain sit in the garage at the pit ahead of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix night race in Singapore in this September 17, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Edgar Su
Helmets for different weather conditions belonging to Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain sit in the garage at the pit ahead of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix night race in Singapore in this September 17, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Edgar Su

By Alan Baldwin

MONACO (Reuters) - McLaren's Fernando Alonso was delicate in his phrasing, but left little to the imagination, when discussing where Formula One drivers might have to put their helmet visor tear-offs at Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix.

"We have different solutions," the Spaniard told reporters on Wednesday when asked about the governing FIA's plans to enforce a long-ignored rule that bans drivers from throwing tear-offs onto the track.

"We’ll try a couple and tomorrow we will find a place...some of these places I cannot tell you now because it’s plus 18 (adult certification)."

The International Automobile Federation has ordered the crackdown to prevent accidents and retirements caused by the thin transparent strips getting caught in brake ducts.

Drivers may have 10 or more layered on their visors which they tear off one by one as their vision becomes impaired by grease or grime.

At a tight and twisty harbourside circuit like Monaco, with the track hemmed in by metal barriers, being in too much of a tearing hurry can have serious implications in more ways than one.

Alonso, a double world champion, has had two such incidents including one in Spain last year where his own tear-off caught in the McLaren's brake duct and ended his race. The other was caused by someone else's refuse.

"It’s a strange rule. We’ve never had this kind of rule, but it’s not a problem to keep the tear-off inside the cockpit. It’s okay," he said.

Team mate Jenson Button, the 2009 champion, said there were lots of ideas and he expected drivers to "stick them in the cockpit in different places" even if that would not be easy.

"Even when you know you have to stick them in the car, you tear them off and your hand is in the air, it’s flying around and you are trying to pull it back into the cockpit to stick it somewhere," he said.

"It’s tricky, and with the first race being Monaco where you have to put it inside the car and not let go of it is tricky for everyone."

What penalty drivers might face if they break the rule had yet to be decided, Alonso said.

"We are still asking the FIA what will be the penalty, and there is still some debate about that," he added.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)


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