Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Rivals obviously trying to slow down Red Bull’s pit stops – Horner

2021 Styrian Grand Prix

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Red Bull CEO Christian Horner believes new regulations on pit stops have been introduced to take away part of his team’s performance advantage.

The FIA has issued an updated technical directive to teams stipulating new steps they must take in order to ensure their cars are not released from the pits before all their wheels have been fully tightened. It will come into force at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

Horner, whose team has performed the fastest pit stop in five of the seven races so far this year, believes the new rules are unnecessary.

“The technical directive is certainly very wordy and you almost have to question whether it’s a change of regulation,” he said. “I suppose that we have been very competitive, we’ve got the world record on pit stops, we’ve had the majority of fastest stops and it’s not by accident. And I find it a little disappointing.

“It’s the duty of the competitor to ensure that the car is safe and the penalty for a wheel not being fixed is you have to stop the car immediately so it’s a brutal punishment if you haven’t got all four wheels securely and safely fastened.

“So what the technical directive is trying to achieve I’m not quite sure because I think there’s an awful lot of complexity to it. Of course when you’re in a competitive situation then if you can’t be beaten then obviously the most logical thing is for your competitors are trying to slow you down and that’s obviously what’s happening here.”

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Recent rules changes regarding rear wings and tyre pressures have also been seen as targeted at Red Bull. Following the team’s victory in last weekend’s French Grand Prix, Horner said his team had disproven claims their performance was due to either.

Analysis: The likely impact of F1’s coming clampdown on ultra-quick pit stops
He believes the latest rules change is the latest in a series of measures aimed at the team. “You can see there’s an awful lot of pointed activity in our direction in the moment. That comes with the territory of being competitive.

“An awful lot of energy is going into trying to slow the car down which is what obviously happens in a competitive business. It’s something we’re used to but I’m not losing too much sleep about it.”

Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff confirmed his team had raised a query with the FIA relating to pit stops several weeks earlier.

Horner is unconvinced whether the latest change to pit stop rules will improve safety, and suggested it could even pose a new hazard.

“To have to hold the car for two-tenths of a second, you could almost argue it’s dangerous because you’re judging your gaps, the guy that’s releasing the car is having to make that judgement. I think that it’s not been well thought through.

“Formula 1 is about innovation and competition. Seeing pit stops sub-two-seconds is a remarkable feat and we should be encouraging it, not trying to control it. Otherwise where does it stop? We’re going to be told which way to walk into the garage, where we should sit on the pit wall and which buttons we should press, I guess.”

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2021 Styrian Grand Prix

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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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29 comments on “Rivals obviously trying to slow down Red Bull’s pit stops – Horner”

  1. I’ve never considered this before but might it be interesting to have a minimum pit stop time?

    From the moment the car stops it has to stay a minimum of five seconds or something?

    Just a daft idea that I am already regretting :/

    1. If they’d really care about safety (and, with less people, costs?) they’d do that. Though I agree that it’s daft and, in my opinion, against the nature of the sport.

    2. They could do a minimum lap time as well – it would certainly help Pirelli ensure their tyres can last till the end of the race.

      1. Ooh good one! How about a minimal race time? Convenient voor TV-broadcasters.
        Let’s turn F1 into a classic car rally.

    3. @nullapax I think the changes are more or less along the lines of ‘keep it sane guys.’ If you’re reaching a point where tyres are being switched faster than the human brain can process the fact, then you’re in a dangerous space. With the Red Bull/Mercedes battle so close this season, and Mercedes asking about a new technological implementation for the pit stops, FIA, wisely, seem to have decided it could get out of hand. Horner’s usual guff notwithstanding.

    4. Or, allow only one man on each wheel. That’ll slow it down.

    5. a simple solution from me …..let’s say the minimum stop time “allowed” is 5 seconds, but if some team did it 3.5 sec, then the finishing time should be added by 1.5 sec …. human can be programmed to be faster on doing something, but not otherwise

      Reply moderated
  2. Hm, well, I guess with Red Bull reacting this hyperbolically, it might actually affect them?

    I would think that it would affect other teams who are only now starting to work to improve pitstops to get consistently close to red bull a lot more. Maybe that does mean that Red Bulls system does not actually wait for wheelguns to be confirmed “ready” but switches within a time limit, and only excellent training made sure they did not make mistakes in the last few years?

    I can see how that would worry the FIA, because we cannot expect everyone to reach that level of excellence as RB has managed to achieve.

    1. And if you fitted sub par brakes it would be dangerous too. Etc…
      Stop these infantile rules. Let the teams decide and if there is a danger take action.

  3. Yes, Christian… They are trying to cut your advantage. If you are having a hard time understanding, try googling ‘f1 engine party mode banned’

    1. Oh wow you’re really comparing a pit stop with engine modes

      1. GS I guess if we go by TW’s line of thinking, it is one thing to cast a line out but that doesn’t mean FIA will take the bait, but what the heck, cast it out anyway and see what happens.

  4. I really feel bad for the mechanics though. They try to optimize and be a real strength of the team, and now they’re told they did to well and have to slow down. Their pride is being hurt too.

    1. Or they may take it as a compliment.

  5. CH let this spur you and Max and Checo on to say even more on the track.

  6. Where are all the people who were complaining last year about how cutting the advantage of a team makes F1 no longer a sport? Did they all give up on F1 because of how unfairly Mercedes were treated? I expected them to be here echoing their views that cutting the advantage of the fastest team is ruining F1 but it’s strangely quiet….

    1. @petebaldwin Exactly, DAS, engine modes and new regulations penalizing low rake cars all add up to a significant deficit, and not one that could be easily remedied given the limits imposed on changes to the cars. I’m sure Red Bull protested how unfair that was to Mercedes but I seemed to have missed it…

    2. The FIA clearly think there is an element to their fast stops that needs to change. Merc have been slowed down repeatedly over the years. I’m not surprised Toto etc are exacting some sort of revenge on those events. Is it Right? Probably not. But an angry Marko is a hilarious Marko so I’m all for it! Max: I’m on board with! Great driver. Marko and Horner: Toads! Slimey toads.

  7. The proposal does not appear to have anything to do with slowing the stops or putting a minimum time on the stops. It seems to be about stopping the person who triggers the release lights from anticipating the attachment of the last wheel. You can raise the same complaint about the same measure in place for the race start–any start below a threshold reaction time earns a penalty. The only way this would slow RBR’s stops absolutely or relatively is if they were were trigging the release less than .2s after the wheel gun signal went off. And even then it would only probably slow them by some hundredths of a second, assuming their guy has a normal .2-.3s reaction ability. If RBR is best at getting the wheels on and off, they will still be fastest. I think it’s valid for the FIA to look at stops that are 2 seconds because when you are against the limits of human reaction time the only advantage to be gained in the stop is going to be anticipating the last step and you can bet teams have been looking at technical means to signal the release faster than a human could do it.

  8. Merc were able to change Valtteri’s tyres in 43 hours, pretty safely (no risk of unsafe release at all) so why should the rest of the teams be allowed to do it faster?

  9. Yes CH, Mercedes have a team of personnel whose sole purpose is to find something specifically on the RB during the race weekend that they can bring to the FIA because they deem it to make the RB faster, of course all under the guise of safety. They can’t match the RB pit stop so …. hey, let’s make the RB stop as slow as ours, of course, safety first.

    Have RB had any issues with not securing their wheels to their cars this year? Last year? Is it a real problem? I think not. If it were Mercedes that had mastered the pit stop then this would be a non-story as Mercedes aren’t going to the FIA on themselves.

    “Don’t worry Lewis, we’ll try and find something on the RB before Max is out of reach in the points.”

    1. And yet Merc say they welcome competition.. sounds ultra hypocritical to me xD hopefully there will be a technical directive that Merc asks about will backfire on them (for example maybe who knows they complain about RBR’s brakes because RBR is too good in the corners.. then the FIA, as we expect, will issue a TD on the brakes.. but the TD actually doesn’t slow RBR and instead slow Merc more.. would be fun to see that.. and would be fun to see whether the FIA would then try to reverse that TD or not xD)

      Reply moderated
      1. Absolutely, it’s a joke, they’re the most unsportsmanlike team I’ve ever seen, and not only now but example brazil 2018, when they already won both titles, they come up with stuff like ocon crashing on verstappen while being lapped while getting 1 more win, my father who also follows f1 a lot said “hamilton will let verstappen past after seeing that”, and I told him “we’re talking about mercedes here”, and indeed.

        1. To get 1 more win*

      2. And yes, would be nice something that backfires on them.

  10. It’s been years since Red Bull did anything as dangerous in the pitlane as Mercedes’ randomly spinning a car. The pitstops are fine, and even back of the grid teams have figured out that you have to stop the car before it leaves the pitlane if they fail to secure the wheels.

    Mercedes moaning about this after a couple of races in which both their pitcrew and drivers failed to match their Red Bull counterparts is quite amusing, all the more so considering all their disingenuous bluster about loving the competition.

  11. Maybe RB has perfected the skill of doing the very last bit of tightening the wheel nut while the car is falling from the jack onto the tarmac. Other teams (Mercedes) probably cannot match that skill. That would indeed take away an adventage of RB which they have built through a lot of training. If this is the case it is a disgrace and bad for the sport, as RB did not lose more wheels after pits stops than other teams.

    1. Indeed, disgrace is the right term.

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