Red Bull fastest in the pits but Ferrari are catching them

2011 F1 season

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Vettel heads for the pits in Hungary

Red Bull’s mechanics are as fast in the pits as the RB7 is on the track.

They’ve been the quickest team in the pits in six of the eleven races so far this year.

Pit stops were a weakness in Ferrari’s game earlier this year but they’ve made major gains in recent races.

Fastest pit stop times at each race

This chart shows the fastest pit stop time (in seconds) for each team in every race so far. Use the controls below to show or hide different teams:

Red Bull22.5221.89321.09120.11219.88726.26922.40220.31923.13720.1119.664
Force India23.87122.04620.98920.77520.0724.9722.47920.28624.07720.83920.589
Toro Rosso23.122.88821.92821.76920.74125.04523.33820.4624.09520.95420.36
Nico Rosberg heads for his pit crew

Red Bull were the quickest team in the pits in the first race of the year and in the last race at Hungary – as well as four of the races in between.

As last year’s world championship leaders they have the advantage of being situated at either end of their pits, which often gives their drivers a straighter run into or out of their pit box.

But this advantage isn’t worth as much as a slick pit stop procedure and a well-drilled team. Mercedes enjoyed the same benefit in 2010 but have remained one of the quickest crews despite losing it this year.

Ferrari have concentrated on their pit stops in recent races and it shows. They were never better than fifth-fastest in the first six races. Since then, they’ve never been out of the top three.

How quick the teams are at turning around pit stops matches their on-track performance very closely. But there are a few significant exceptions.

Force India have been consistently quick in the pits

The first is Mercedes, who did the fastest pit stop times in three races this year: China, Spain and Germany.

Force India are another. From the Malaysian to the European Grand Prix they were consistently among the top four fastest pit stop times.

However HRT are lagging well behind even their closest on-track rivals. While Vitantonio Liuzzi and Daniel Riciardo may entertain hopes of racing the Virgins on Sundays, losing up to two seconds on every pit visit is not going to help their cause.

Average pit stop times at each race

This chart shows the average pit stop time for all of a driver’s pit stops (in seconds) in each race. Use the controls below to show or hide different drivers:

Sebastian Vettel23.3222.40821.76420.40220.21528.53623.11920.59326.50420.25920.322
Mark Webber24.05922.19821.88821.120.30630.09124.90620.38424.41620.68820.673
Lewis Hamilton23.21323.25320.65924.90920.36428.46620.52924.16820.62721.205
Jenson Button22.99222.45121.92521.80820.29525.2625.31320.624.21620.95220.966
Fernando Alonso24.05524.5121.88821.5320.48129.37225.45720.72124.67120.14721.539
Felipe Massa24.14624.88621.39623.37521.61826.61524.63422.2223.77520.81121.76
Michael Schumacher24.50522.35521.29523.01620.34135.08423.59224.34527.44720.33221.01
Nico Rosberg23.71623.35721.16521.18920.19225.18322.88221.83224.56120.45721.128
Nick Heidfeld24.04623.24122.01921.74421.35726.13823.23921.95724.57523.403
Vitaly Petrov25.10924.85221.99321.56122.60928.85623.98121.45924.52621.01123.172
Rubens Barrichello29.26928.7421.59522.42423.11225.75724.02921.23724.90824.514
Pastor Maldonado24.28122.75422.7925.94725.50221.53224.79321.32922.666
Adrian Sutil24.92522.29823.58521.24621.42326.45825.86920.66625.68520.85921.448
Paul di Resta24.59823.05621.60420.99920.25639.80724.74620.81834.45823.10621.333
Kamui Kobayashi24.12823.36121.89622.57722.16628.64224.15322.01928.44821.07522.612
Sergio Perez23.43823.59724.57224.06122.18821.93925.50324.44621.234
Sebastien Buemi24.22125.3622.88721.97622.12725.38824.78220.92525.4524.12821.39
Jaime Alguersuari25.90323.23622.41922.11421.44426.72924.74921.24724.40721.37622.544
Heikki Kovalainen24.86526.2122.18822.53421.63126.07844.03722.33321.63221.998
Jarno Trulli24.87425.51622.64522.71622.36325.90842.64322.72923.118
Narain Karthikeyan26.04925.59624.5336.05329.32826.255
Vitantonio Liuzzi31.06423.98337.49323.15728.29831.79223.15326.07422.04823.888
Timo Glock24.52326.13921.84926.82724.75221.96525.18821.75221.255
Jerome dAmbrosio25.85325.33422.85223.80822.62226.83527.50222.09727.08522.17529.643
Pedro de la Rosa27.164
Daniel Ricciardo26.40723.18622.686
Karun Chandhok25.556
Lewis Hamilton had two of the three quickest stops in China

A quick pit stop is great but it’s not much use if a team can only do it once in ten attempts. A crack pit crew need to match their speed with consistency – and here Red Bull are also on top form.

Similarly McLaren turn around Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button’s cars in more or less the same amount of time each weekend.

Ferrari have been less consistent. Felipe Massa has had some particularly bad pit stops, though the effect of those has sometimes been heightened by poor in- and out-laps, particularly in Hungary.

On the face of it, Nico Rosberg appears to have had quicker pit stops than Michael Schumacher. But Schumacher has had to change his front wing in several races this year due to damage.

How teams are sharpening up their pit stops

Since in-race refuelling was banned at the end of 2009, the speed of a pit stop has been determined solely by how quickly the crew can get the old tyres off and the new ones on.

A slow pit stop can have obvious consequences. A clear recent example being Massa leading Sebastian Vettel into the pits on the last lap at the Nurburgring, then following him out after a fumbled stop.

Teams have been experimenting with different approaches to make their pit stops quicker and more consistent.

Teams use boards to help their drivers be more accurate

The use of high-visibility boards to help drivers stop on their marks with greater accuracy is widespread. Red Bull took the concept a step further, using lasers to help Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel position their cars perfectly.

A further example of Red Bull’s attention to detail was evident at Silverstone. In the damp conditions before the start the team used air blowers to dry the surface in their pit box.

Mercedes have used techniques borrowed from their DTM team to guard against lost wheel nuts – see the video above for more.

Some teams have even adjusted the rigging above the cars to ensure maximum air pressure is being driven to the guns the mechanics use to remove and replace the wheels.

The new tyre compounds used in F1 may have made overtaking on the track easier, but it hasn’t relieved the pressure on the pit crews. With up to four pit stops in dry races instead of one, they’re busier and more important to a driver’s performance than ever before.

Notes on the analysis

The data used is the FIA’s statistics on time spent in the pit lane for each pit stop. A complete list of stationary times for every pit stop is not available.

Timo Glock’s average pit stop time for the Australian Grand Prix was ignored as he spent almost nine minutes in the garage at one point.

Drive-through and stop-go penalties were ignored.

2011 F1 season statistics

Images © Red Bull/Getty images, Allianz, Force India F1 Team, McLaren, Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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35 comments on “Red Bull fastest in the pits but Ferrari are catching them”

  1. Very interesting. I always thought Mercedes were the fastest in the pits. It shows how RBR drivers have had the equipment to make for the pits without failing. Although the race they did fail it probably cost Vettel the race. Mclaren’s pit stops aren’t the fastest, but they consistently seem to get the job done.

    1. they seem to get the job done…like they did in Silverstone for Button?

    2. Well, as with everything in life, people need a motivation to do well. The teams try to engineer their pitstops as much as the cars but within the limits there is much room. One major motivation is racing for position, another can be incentives and yet another can be Ross Brawn standing across the track with a stopwatch, judging how well you are doing. He is the only one I know who actually does that but it seems to work.

    3. Well, they were last year. And they are still amongst the better teams, but Red Bull has overtaken them and Ferrari is closing in.

      1. Agree with last point but ferrari coming on strong second half of season but red bull dominating no thanks to MW, Alonso can still be F1 champion ahead of Vettel if he has the right set up for the rest of the season

        1. interesting to see though that almost everyone one of Vettels average pitstops are quicker than Webbers bar silverstone where he had that wheelnut problem (although so did Webber in that race, just cost less time)

  2. i’d be great if someone could annotate that second picture of a mercedes pitstop, pointing out the role of each mechanic in the photo.

    great article!

    1. Check out this link to Wiki:

      It doesn’t have an annotated picture but you can get a good idea of who is doing what from the description.

  3. Schumacher has had to change his front wing in several races this year due to damage.

    Then it’s a good thing that the proposed 2014 regulations call for smaller front wings, because otherwise, Mercedes might have to set aside a full budget for Schumacher’s front wing breakages …

    1. You expect Schumacher to still be driving then?

      1. Maybe not, but Barrichello will be! :P

  4. I think credit should be given to Virgin Racing…one of the newer teams that has only been in F1 for 2 years and they look to be on the whole second quickest at pit stops. Will do them good in the future if they find any extra speed

    1. I think you have somewhere misread the graph, Viring are rather 2nd or 3rd from the backside of the grid in fastest stops and somewhere in the middle for averages.

  5. I’d be very interested to see the slowest pit stop of each driver graphed for each race.

    1. You can view a list of all pit stop times for the last two races:

      Germany pit stops and tyres used
      Hungary pit stops and tyres used

      That data for earlier races will be available here later.

  6. The second graph shows how most drivers had below-average pit stops at Monaco.
    HRT should really improve, they’re always way back, whilts Lotus and Virgin occasionally challenge higher teams in the stops.

  7. HRT with the slowest pit stops. Talk about consistently setting the bar at its lowest..

    1. Of course you could choose to notice that in the last few races they have been remarkably quicker…. In the last 3-4 HRT have been competitive with Virgin and Lotus. Which is what they should try and aim for.

  8. HRT’s cause probably isn’t helped by running over their own pit crew.

    1. I do hope that guy is okay. Apparently his head injuries were quite serious. I’ve asked a few times over the winter and this year if anyone knows if he was okay in the end, but no one seems to have any information. I assume he is.

    2. That is sickening.

  9. Looks like McLaren could do with implementing that wheel nut technology…

    1. They could also teach the lollipop guy to not release the car until the gun mechanic tells him the wheel is attached. Would help!

  10. Oh I can see. Massa definitely have been suffered from poor pit stop.

  11. This is an unrelated note, but looking at the race video on for Hungary I can’t help but make the comment, once again, that Massa is completely useless on a wet track, as has been well documented over the years. You would expect an experienced driver like him to at least not spin out of the track ***every time*** it is wet. This is unbelievable.

    1. Every time it’s wet? Like Brazil 2008?

  12. Great arcticle. Keith your the best statistician.

    1. Thank you :-)

  13. ferrari might of had some quick ones.

    but they have equally had some rubbish ones too. for both alonso and massa. They rarely get through a races with all good pit stops.

    1. Yeah, if they can work on consistency they’d be able to take it to Red Bull and Mclaren fairly easily.

  14. You would think that HRT would make it’s best effort in all those little things that don’t require a massive budget. I guess it has to do with the negative emotional inertia of dragging along a very slow car. But it can work the other way around, (a great challenge in the cusp of auto-sport) and one wonders if a fast pitstop and winning attitude would translate to places up the grid.

  15. Do some drivers not quite stop on the mark each time – so the crew have to adjust? I’m wondering why Massa’s consistently losing out, and there was an extreme example from d’Ambrosio…

    Any chance of an out-lap graph for all the drivers? Is that data available? That might show if anyone has an advantage, and by how much, when getting new tyres up to speed.

    1. All the lap times for all the drivers are in the post-race team reviews which go up on a Monday – they will include the out-laps.

      You can also find all the lap times for some of the recent races here – the rest for this year will be added later:

      2011 F1 statistics: Race charts

      As for doing a side-by-side comparison, it’s not something I produce at the moment but could do in the future.

  16. They aint got nothin on this guy!

  17. HRT are the slowest in almost every Department,EVEN PITSTOPS

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