Friday, 24 April 2015

Special Feature - Pit-stop's getting faster but safety remains the priority

(DHL via

Formula One is the Pinnacle of motorsport with technology at its core. One thing that has been consistent for many years in the sport is pit-stops. Teams up and down the pit-lane have seen their Grand Prix results decided.

In 2010 due to safety concerns refuelling during pit stops was banned in Formula One and as a result of this we saw pit-stop times reduced. 

At last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari set the fastest pit-stop of the weekend with a 2.32s. Last year I asked former Williams Team manager Dickie Stanford how many practice pit-stops they carry out over the course of a race weekend to which he replied 60.

Over the last few years pit-stop time have been dramatically reduced. Last weekend saw an extremely quick stop by Ferrari which helped Kimi Raikkonen to finish the race in second place just behind race winner Lewis Hamilton. This was a dramatic improvement for the Italian team as in the opening Grand Prix of the season in Australia the Iceman was forced to retire from the race after a wheel nut was not secured correctly.

In the opening four Grand Prix of the season Ferrari have recorded three of the fastest pit-stop times while the Sahara Force India Formula One Team have one.

During the 1980’s Formula One pit-stops were extremely dangerous as pit-crews went into the pit-lane with no safety gear at all, no helmet’s and no fire proof overalls. In 2008, Ferrari introduced a traffic lights system replacing the lollipop man.

Formula One is not like IndyCar. In the American single-seat category each car has their own pit box, so if a team like Andretti Autosport are running four cars they have four crews working on their cars however in Formula One each team just have the one pit crew to service both cars.

Formula One teams have managed to get stops down to 2.32s stops and with that sort time it is inevitable that mistakes will be made no matter what crews do in terms of their preparation for stops. It had been suggested that teams would have to work to a target pit stop time however that has not been introduced and it is likely not to be introduced.

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

© Ben Johnston 2015

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