Mercedes queried FIA over pit stop procedures last month

2021 Styrian Grand Prix

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The FIA introduced new rules to slow down Formula 1 teams’ pit stops following a query raised by Mercedes at least three weeks ago.

However Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff said he is not aware whether their enquiry prompted the revision to the rules, revealed yesterday, which will come into force for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

“We enquired with the FIA on a safety mechanism which is related to a system that we are using and whether that could be optimised,” said Wolff. “That happened, I would say, three or four weeks ago and was a technology question.

“Did that trigger anything else? Maybe, I don’t know, but this is the question we’ve asked.”

An updated technical directive stipulates minimum reaction times for mechanics at certain phases of the pit stops and requires a 0.2 second delay between the pit stop being completed and the car being released.

“It’s interesting to see because there must be a reason why that TD has come up and I’m not 100% sure,” said Wolff. “The operation of the wheel gun and the release of the car is a highly complex matter.”xp

The revision to the rules, which will come into effect in three races’ time, has prompted controversy. Mercedes’ championship rivals Red Bull have consistently produced the quickest pit stops this season, and won last week’s French Grand Prix by manoeuvring Max Verstappen into the lead through a well-timed and rapid pit stop.

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Wolff said the revision to the rules targeted a potential area where safety could be improved. “Certainly all of us in the team are up for competition because it’s a competitive field but there is also the safety argument,” he said.

Analysis: The likely impact of F1’s coming clampdown on ultra-quick pit stops
Mercedes has performed its pit stops with an extra margin to reduce the possibility of a car being sent from its pit box with a loose wheel, said Wolff.

“You will always put everything into your pit stops so you avoid the wheel just detaching or coming off because the damage is enormous.

“We in the past had a policy of making sure that that wouldn’t happen and that also meant to have some circuit breakers in the system in a way that that could never happen. And that slows you down in terms of pit stops. But that was our own decision, it had nothing to do with anybody else.

“A fast pit stop is nice to have and they look cool but I’m not 100% sure there’s such a huge performance differentiator because we are talking about a tenth or two on average, we are not talking about the slowest or the fastest pit stops. It will be interesting to see [what] that come from and what the basis was.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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65 comments on “Mercedes queried FIA over pit stop procedures last month”

  1. As I noted several werks ago. According to Marko then the question was about illegal devices used by redbull.
    So the amount of BS by Toto is increasing with every error they make.

    1. If RB are doing something that other teams spot, no other team should be allowed to question it, or seek guidance from the FIA if they want to copy it.

      1. Do they need guidance to copy it?
        Toto always can ask friend stroll how to do this.

        1. I actually thought freind stroll asked Toto a couple of years ago. Unofficially and off the books of course

        2. +1000


    2. The way teams do this Erikje, is not actually to ask about devices used by rivals, but rather to ask whether they can do this and that to improve their own devices.

      Something like Mercedes asking whether they could switch the “go” light system with a mechanism that would switch on within a certain time after the wheelgun starts spinning, or somethign like that.

      1. Exactly. What probably happened is Mercedes determined Red Bull had some questionable automation in their procedure. At least per the rules.

        Basically the entire purpose of rules in F1 is to make sure safety is not compromised in the pursuit of speed. If one driver was allowed to race without a helmet they all would. So it is reasonable for a team to call out a rival for violating the rules in pursuit of a few hundreds of a second.

        But it seems to me the safest thing would be not to have mechanisms based on human interpretation, which seems to be what the new regulations require.

        1. @slotopen

          But it seems to me the safest thing would be not to have mechanisms based on human interpretation, which seems to be what the new regulations require.

          Exactly my thoughts. I don’t know much about the F1 wheel guns, but presumably they’re set to a specific torque, and once that torque has been applied, a sensor on the gun detects this (via clutch slip or something similar) which then indicates that the wheel has been fastened correctly. It’s impossible for a human to correctly determine this; and are just as (if not more) likely to make a mistake.

          We use system automation to reduce the risks of mistakes. Humans are very fallible and highly prone to error. Seems to be very much in the wrong direction.

    3. The Germans pulling out all the distractionary tactics when they’re not winning. I guess they only like competition when it’s in their rear view mirrors.

      1. Wolff is Austrian and 90% of the key Mercedes staff is British.

        1. Then why they keep bragging about their German mentality and heritage.

          1. Um, it’s a German automotive corporation with roots going back over a century to German engineers Benz and Daimler, they’re going to acknowledge that narrative with their ‘brand’ even when the nuts and bolts of the F1 team is predominantly British run by an Austrian.

            Doesn’t mean when something happens it’s ‘the Germans’, same as it’s not ‘the Austrians’ kicking up a fuss when Horner whines about some injustice or other either.

        2. He is actually Italian if you can believe that. He doesn’t exactly look or sound like it, does he?

          1. He does use an Italian playbook so you could be right😊

          2. Whoops, it was actually Gunther Steiner I was thinking of. Wolff is Austrian. Pardon my momentary brain fade.

  2. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    25th June 2021, 12:58

    However Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff said he is not aware whether their enquiry prompted the revision to the rules

    From the makers that brought you:
    – No we are not sandbagging season 1 till 8
    – Check their rear wing, just in case
    – Change the rules regarding tyre pressure, Red Bull must be running less because they perform better
    – ‘Ahem, how about you check that Ferrari donkey and its fuel flow, just in case’
    And many, many more!

    1. If you watched F1 in the 80s then this is child’s play by comparison!

      1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
        25th June 2021, 13:20

        I was thinking that the open corruption from the 80’s was behind us. Or maybe I was hoping.

    2. So disappointing that Mercedes is not trying to improve their team, but they try to find a way to make Red bull slower.

      1. You mean like year after year demanding that all engines have parity, complaining about party modes, etc?

        1. Not to mention DAS and FRIC and the massive aero regs that Redbull pushed for for the 2017 season.

          1. You mean the aero regs that benefitted Mercedes and cost rbr. Like the changed front wing.
            (not the flex one by Mercedes of course :)

    3. From the makers that brought you ‘The 46 hour pit stop’, the unexpected sequel: “Aaargh, pit-stops are waaaay to fast!”.

    4. Yeah you’re right with most of that, but the tyre pressure stuff has been mandated by Pirelli right?

      Merc have historically struggled on higer pressures so I doubt they’d have been pushing that one!

  3. I’m not 100% sure there’s such a huge performance differentiator because we are talking about a tenth or two on average

    Next time you’re two tenths slower than the next car I’m sure you’ll regard it as a huge performance differentiator.

  4. “Certainly all of us in the team are up for competition because it’s a competitive field but there is also the safety argument,”

    Yeah, OK Toto, we all believe you. First the Tyre blankets, now this. Yeah it really sounds like you are loving and appreciating the first proper competition you have had in the sport since you held the sport to ransom over the engine regs of 2014 being implemented….. oops,. I mean the current engine regulations.
    What is it you and all the ‘cough’ Mercedes fans have been spouting since 2014!?!?! Oh yes that’s right…… Its the job of the other teams to do better…….. well there you go, rather than bitching about regulations, why don’t you get your heads down and do a better job.

  5. It’d be nice if Mercedes focused their time on training their pit crew better, rather than speaking to the FIA.

    1. well.. if youre using gadgets that are faster than any human reaction theres no way to train their crew better…. more like train their crew to use shady tactics better

      1. @cplchanb
        That’s be a point if Mercedes had the second-fastest stops on the grid, but they don’t. They clearly don’t put enough work in.
        And “shady tactics” hah!

  6. Lol TW: I don’t know, we’ve queried about so many things with the FIA about RBR I’ve lost track. Maybe they decided on this TD out of the blue…after we gave them our list.

    1. LOL. I must say: there’s three articles on the matter already and I find it confusing under which one I placed which rant exactly, so I understand Toto’s confusion.

  7. Well, if Monaco is anything to go by, their strategy for ensuring cars don’t leave the pits with a loose wheel is a little too effective…

    1. You can’t get a fine for leaving the pits unsafely if you never leave the pits, smart thinking Toto.

  8. Mercedes before this year were disliked because of sandbagging antics. With competition real this year, they seem to up the ante and want to stop any advantage another team has over them.

    1. They were disliked because of their performance. all the regs/complains were to destabilize their aero, and freeze engines so mercedes cant improve anymore and others can catch up. Red Bull are the main issue here as they played the pitty victim card (honda issue, and noone want to supply them anything, i wonder why?) and always playing with the edge of (bending all) aero rules, one wonders what all the fuss was about?

      FIA unfairly allowed a significant advantage with that extremely flexing rear wing (free drs from medium speed corners to all straights!!)… mercedes had a cooling solution to cool wheels, redbulls went to get it banned, mercedes had a quick tyre heat up solution, redbull were vocal before even the season! but their significant aero advantage from rules changes and clever trickery (lack of fia ruling) they were allowed to use flex wings so long, also got mercedes aero destabilized this year… interesting to see all these changes were instigated by redbull, benefited the most, yet they claim they just improved…. funny gaining huge advantage from aero destabilization of rival, and getting their engine blocked from improving further is called a fair game… i m sure mercedes in a couple of races will sort things out, and we will see redbull to start vocalizing complaints again as usual…

      1. Hyperbole on hyperbole does not support your claims.
        If only look at the flex wings, you do not seem to have a problem with merc flex fronts but only rear flex backs. And in practice we already agreed rbr does not need the flex.

      2. @mysticus
        They were not disliked because of their performance but mainly because of their attitude of sour losers. They got the regulations to their likes and stopped anyone from getting closer with the stupid tokens system that transformed F1 into a farce between 2014-2016.

        They were bragging about their performance and German engineering when they were so far ahead while everybody knew that they were sometimes going beyond the rules (oil burn, trick suspensions….) and whenever somebody is getting closer like Ferrari in 2017 and 2018, they will try to create an opinion that they are going beyond the rules and will relentlessly keep pressuring the FIA to cut whatever advantage their rivals have. They are doing the same with RBR this year and this was expected due to the known modus operandi of Toto Wolff.

        How about the 2019 front wing rule change which took a huge advantage RBR and Ferrari had over Mercedes with their front wings designs ? How about the TD issued by the FIA in 2019 targeting Ferrari power unit ? C’mon you can’t be serious saying that the FIA is targeting Mercedes. BTW, the floor rules were not targeting low rake cars as Mercedes claims.

        The thing is RP or Aston Martin started that claim because they couldn’t adapt to the new rules because they don’t have a clear understanding of their car concept which was copied from Mercedes. The thing is Mercedes have adjusted to the rules and have a car as fast as RBR in race trim. The thing is they have thrown a lot points due to mistakes because they are simply feeling the pressure.

        1. @tifoso1989

          Engine rules brought forward from 2014 onwards was Mainly Renault’s idea to be relevant to their business! It was REDBULL’s engine supplier.

          Oil burn was done by all, and it was allowed to degree, it was a known fact and not a trick. Besides, who lost from reduced oil burn limits?

          Trick suspension? There was nothing trick about it, most of the field was using some versions of it. Its original user was Lotus (then renault). Guess who protested against it ??? Renault and Ferrari, masters of cheating in this motorsports field…

          Ferrari power unit regulation was vocalled mostly about by guess who? REDBULL! Ferrari were indeed cheating and everyone in the paddock knew, but FIA gave them a jail free card, and didnt even need to punish them at all.

          I can go on on, stop wearing that thin foil hat.

  9. Next step will be Toto asking Fia to slow down cars? You know, going fast is dangerous

    1. Yupp xD they will implement a delta time for each lap which will be close to Merc’s time.. for example, in track A, Merc’s best time is a 1:14.8 (and let’s say RBR’s is 1:14.6), they will implement a rule where each lap’s delta time will be 1:15.0, and anything under that is a penalty.. xD Merc can surely do those 1:15.0 easily and RBR might have to slow so much they eventually do 1:15.1 or 1:15.2s that eventually RBR drop behind the Mercs

    2. well, FIA is already trying to slow down cars anyway, has been since 2017

  10. Merc: “Pit-stops are unsafe!”
    Valtteri Bottas: “Hold my beer!”

    1. We don’t need youtube comments here, but anyway, I don’t expect anything better on this site. It has gone down long time ago.

  11. FIAMG

    This is is just like when they changed the tire compound a few years ago to benefit Mercedes under the guise of ‘safety’ and things instantly swung their way. Incredible how everytime a rival gets close, something about their car is deemed illegal, while Mercedes’ designs never have any issues.

    1. Hmm…I do seem to remember rule changes that were more harmful to the lower rake cars, teams jumping up and down over the DAS-system and the banning of party-modes, but other than that you are absolutely right.

      1. which doesn’t mean I think the pit stop rule change is absolutely BS as well of course.

        1. don’t! Missed a word there. An important one.

      2. The front wing regulations of 2018 hurt RBR the most. The rake theory about losing more by Mercedes is only that. Practice shows Mercedes is on par still. And even AM is good.

    2. That’s just wrong Rob, but you crack on lad.
      You seem to be having a wonderful time so I won’t spoil it. 👍

  12. Looks like MB had some sort of system to automate the release based on the the wheel gun operation and wanted to know if it, or other people’s similar systems, is legal. To the extent the RBR has fast stops, it’s not because of the release reaction time, they just have a good procedure.

  13. I get that teams poke into each other’s designs, devices and procedures. That’s just part of the game. What I fail to understand is why FIA felt compelled to change the rules this time. Seems weird.

    1. In ten years time we will find what some teams were up to was slightly dodgy, and all the F1 press will say ‘Oh, we knew that at the time’. As I expect Pirelli knows what the teams are up to with the tyres and Ferrari with their engine.
      Anyway, what’s with the spinning this weekend? I wondered why Sainz was facing the wrong way in the pit exit, and the spins just kept on coming.

  14. Funny, Toto talking about safety during pitstops and let Bottas spin in the pitlane.

  15. Maybe merc should ask fia for radars and whom ever goes faster than them gets a penalty

    1. Don’t say that here.. maybe Merc and specifically the FIA are reading everything here and you just gave them a good idea? xD

    2. i laughed

  16. The whole thing is a ploy by the FIA to distract us from the fact that they have no clue how to deal with track limits once and for all.

    1. The gravel traps in Austria seem to be enforcing track limits quite well……..

  17. Sergey Martyn
    26th June 2021, 5:04

    Next Toto’s query: Could we ban Dutch fans?

  18. Sergey Martyn
    26th June 2021, 5:19

    Cambridge dictionary:

    A competition in which all the competitors try to be the fastest and to finish first.

    FIA rulebook:

    A competition in which all the competitors try to be the fastest while the governing body tries to slow them down as much as possible by illogical and incomprehensible rules.

    1. Totos manual.
      Rule 1. A competition in which all the competitors try to be the fastest but slower then Mercedes. If this rule is not obeyed protests should follow.
      FIA should start a investigation in all activities that conflict with rule 1.

  19. why is this rule or any mid season rule change allowed unless it seriously affects safety?
    even if RB are using assists, which FIA and Toto failed to prove, DAS was also an assist and had a bigger effect on the championship so why was it not banned mid season?

  20. So let me summarize here:
    “During the hearing [Bottas] stated that in the past they have been losing time in the pit departure. So they tried something new, which was to leave in second gear.”
    and it is this team which queried FIA over safety issues due to too quick pitstops. Hum…

  21. I find it very poor that a neutral referee, like the FIA, lends itsself for this mudslinging to and fro, between teams.
    Todt says he doesn’t want more controversy, but the weekend after that quote he just adds more and more and more.
    They want mlre controversy, for 8 years this sport has been momumentally dull and now for the first time they have something they can exploit for media attention, ad revenue and viewership, and they are trying to squeeze every last drop out of it.

    It’s quite sad, since this season has had all the ingredients for a great competitive season, its starting to become tainted.

  22. Hmm,
    I saw Max drinking a can of Red Bull recently, I wonder will Toto query this as possibly a performance enhancing product. 🙈

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