Pit stops

Pit stops are incredible feats of choreography and timing and is a real team effort. A pit stop can mean the difference between winning and losing a race. Pit stops are a crucial part of Formula 1 racing strategy.

When a driver comes into the pit lane, a lollipop man will be standing by his pit garage, directing the driver in. The driver will bring the car to a stop in a precise lcoation. If a tyre change is needed, the car will be jacked up at the front and rear. Three mechanics are assigned to each wheel – one to remove and refit the central nut with a high speed airgun, one to remove the old wheel and one to fit the new wheel. Two mechanics are needed for the fuelling rig. Other mechanics may also be present to make minor changes to the car, for example altering the angles of the front and rear wings or increasing/decreasing downforce levels. Other tasks such as changing nose cones require more time even though they are designed for quick replacement, and this will extend the time needed for the pit stop.

You will also often see mechanics removing rubbish and debris from the car intakes to make sure that the radiator performs to maximum efficiency. There will also be one mechanic standing by the rear of the car with an engine-starter in case the driver stalls the engine.

After each mechanic has completed their respective jobs, they will raise their hand. The lollipop man will wait until all his mechanics hands are raised and then release the car back into the pit lane. It it the lollipop man’s job to make sure that there are no other cars passing the pit lane before he releases his driver.

Routine pit stops take around 7 seconds. Longer pit stops are usually due to more fuel being put into the car. A team will practise pit stops hundreds of times to ensure that they are performing perfectly on the day to give their car the best chance of winning.