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 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.
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:
|Paul di Resta||24.598||23.056||21.604||20.999||20.256||39.807||24.746||20.818||34.458||23.106||21.333|
|Pedro de la Rosa||27.164|
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.
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
- 2011 F1 statistics: Championship points
- 2011 F1 statistics: Season records
- 2011 F1 statistics: Races
- 2011 F1 statistics: Qualifying
- 2011 F1 statistics: Retirements
- 2011 F1 statistics: Strategy
- 2011 F1 statistics: Driver form guides
Images © Red Bull/Getty images, Allianz, Force India F1 Team, McLaren, Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo