Pit stops are crucial and integral parts of Formula 1 races. They take place in a lightning-fast manner with mechanics syncing with each other to change tyres, adjust aerodynamic components, and more. Let’s learn more about the same.
Even a fraction of one second is important in Formula One and the pit crew remains under tremendous pressure whenever drivers enter the pit lane. They have to quickly change four tyres and get other minor adjustments done Red Bull Racing has the record for the quickest time at a pit-stop. They achieved a timing of 2.05 seconds at the beginning of the season in 2013. The team even improved this record in the same year at the USA Grand Prix, achieving a pit stop of 1.923 seconds. This has remained as the record ever since that day!
Losing Precious Time
Pit stops may even be longer if certain components are required to be changed or if there are issues with the wheel nuts, if there are adjustments needed for the angle in the front wing or if under-steer or over-steer must be fixed. The time also goes up if there is a puncture or debris needed to be removed. The longer pit stops are problematic for F1 drivers although the sport has often witnessed stoppage at times of seven seconds or even higher!
There is a team at work
While the driver is the one racing on the track, F1 is a team sport. More than 20 people work as crew members for pit stops. Every tyre will need three mechanics, i.e., one running the wheel gun, one person taking the tyre off and also another one to put a new tyre on.
There are two individuals for car stabilization while two other people take care of running the front and rear jacks for lifting the vehicle once it comes to the pit lane. There are also two other mechanics who work to adjust the front wing while also removing nosecones if a replacement is needed. There are also two back up rear and front jack crew persons and a few other people running the lighting-based systems.
Lollipop men and their status now
F1 cars would earlier be guided by lollipop men into the pit lane, and they would hold responsibility of informing drivers about when they could safely exit the pit box as well. Lollipop men would first tell drivers to brake on a side, choose the first gear on another side and then get moving after it was lifted up once again.
However, the job was phased out in the year 2008 when Ferrari began using the traffic light-based system. The lollipop man came back after a costly mistake at the Singapore Grand Prix earlier. However, traffic lights made a comeback at Ferrari while many other teams started using the system as well.
Hitting pit marks
The pit crew remains in position to get the task executed swiftly although drivers have to stop at a particular mark. If they miss this, it may require many other seconds for the mechanics to again change positions and adapt. This is a vital component in F1 pit stops.
How pit stops have evolved
When the Formula One championship first began, pit stops only happened when drivers retired from races. From the 1970s, this became more common with tyre changes becoming more frequent. Pit stops were earlier more chaotic and longer, while refueling came into being in the year 1994. However, it got banned by the end of -2009, with teams now focusing primarily on changing tyres.
Teams and drivers may get penalties during pit stops for mistakes. Ten second and five second penalties may be given with mechanics required to wait for passing the time until they begin work. Mistakes still happen with drivers being released at times in an unsafe manner.
Very little equipment is needed for pit stops. The rear and front jacks are present along with a swivel feature as well. Jacks come with sift release levers and powered devices are not used. Every corner has two pneumatic wheel guns if any one fails, functioning with compressed air. The system has evolved over the years. Mechanics also get wheel gun buttons for signaling stops although hands are often raised as well. There is a light system hanging from the pit gantry as well. This also accommodates the air lines, CCTV cameras and trigger wiring applicable for the wheel guns.
- F1 pit stops are hubs of activity with several things taking place
- The pit stops have several activities going on simultaneously.
- Heres us taking a closer look at the same.