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F1 pit stop league: Race is on, not just on the track in Singapore
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Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  25 Sep 2011   |  10:59 am GMT  |  16 comments

Today’s Singapore Grand Prix should provide a thrilling spectacle on track between the world’s leading drivers but there is also fierce competition in the pitlane between rival teams of mechanics for the fastest pit stops.

As you would expect from the team which has raised its game in all areas of late, Red Bull leads the way on the fastest average pit stop across the season, but they have some stiff competition from Mercedes in particular and it is a point of contention for the Red Bull crew, directed by Jonathan Wheatley, that Mercedes has set a faster time this year for all four wheels changed; 2.82 seconds in China.

Clinching the two world titles is the absolute priority, but they also want to finish the season with a faster stop than Mercedes. Today’s race should give them plenty of practice; we are likely to see a mixture of three and two stop strategies among the front runners.

In the 13 races to date Red Bull has had the fastest average stop on seven occasions, while Mercedes has been on top four times. Ferrari and McLaren have topped the pit stop time sheets only once each.

Further down the field Force India is punching above its weight with the fifth fastest average pit stops, as is Lotus in sixth place, ahead of established teams Renault, Sauber, Williams and Toro Rosso.

The level of discipline in this area is an interesting indicator of a team’s overall sharpness and ambition, as shown by the almost military precision of the Red Bull operation, with small green lasers placed in the boons above the pit box, shining the exact spot for the driver to place the front wheels for fastest engagement of the wheel guns.

F1 PIT STOP LEAGUE TABLE, Average stop time behind fastest

1. Red Bull
2. Mercedes – 0.13sec
3. McLaren – 0.25sec
4. Ferrari – 0.55sec
5. Force India – 0.67sec
6. Lotus – 0.9sec
7. Renault – 0.91sec
8. Sauber – 1 sec
9. Williams – 1.15sec
10. Toro Rosso – 1.24sec
11. Virgin – 1.84sec
12. HRT – 3.33sec

Thanks to Mercedes GP Petronas for the data

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16 Comments
  1. hlgovinna says:

    I know it sounds cool james but i dont think lasers make much of a difference. I mean, hows an F1 driver meant to see the little laser dot when coming into the pits in an F1 car? Its just Red Bull showing off i say

    1. Dan says:

      Explanation below of the laser system, which appears to shine onto the top of the pit crew’s “stop here” front wheel board to ensure the car is aligned perfectly with the crew who are all at fixed points relative to the lasers in the boom. This means the driver will be more likely to stop at exactly the right place for the crew to engage the wheel guns without having to move either left or right, thus less chance of time wasted. Could it be that Adrian Newey makes fast pit stop booms as well as fast cars?

      http://www.f1technical.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=10101

      (scroll down to f1mottas translation)

      Of course, if McLaren fitted this to Hamilton’s pit box too, the mechanics would be less likely to end up being ‘punctured’ by a car where the driver seems blissfully unaware of the length of his vehicle. Ahem.

  2. David Hamilton says:

    Think it also shows what a tight ship Mike Gascoyne runs that Lotus, as a new team, is so high up.

  3. Chris B says:

    Thanks James for stats, something else Red Bull get right consistently. Keep up Sing tweets very informative cf competition. Yours seem to be well ahead!!

  4. Lindsay says:

    Interesting, particularly the use of laser markers, although I shouldn’t be surprised at the level of effort to which some teams go to improve their pitstops.

    I thought the omission of Red Bull’s average was disappointing. It’s the most important point of comparison in the whole list!

  5. Pranav Haldea says:

    james….james james…pl do something about these stewards!! how did hamilton deserve a drive through for that? what is this propoganda that they have against him?

    Im sure had he cut the chicane on the first corner like rosberg did, he would surely have been penalised for that as well..

    is this sport supposed to be about overtaking at all? or all that we want is a processional show!

    this is really really becoming super annoying…

    1. richard says:

      he intentionally turned in, causing a collision with a competitor. it’s in the rules not to do that… we all love his aggressive driving but you can’t argue it causes issues for other drivers.

      1. mycool says:

        Hardly!
        Hamilton clearly turned in early with a view to cutting back inside Massa on the exit. He misjudged it and clipped the rear of Massa’s car. All this he did it deliberately is childish as he ruined his own race so no benfit in doing so.

        Also there was no camera angle showing if Massa made the apex or had gone a little wide himself (as could be reasonably expected given he would have been braking as late a possible to defend his position).

        If we want wheel to wheel racing and overtaking then we must accept that drivers will get it wrong on occaision and the more aggressive ones more often.

  6. Rodger says:

    Good to see Lotus up there. It shows their commitment to being a proper team, who is trying to compete in all aspects of the race.

    Heiki finishing ahead of Petrov is a good sign as well.

  7. Ferrari not doig as well as I’d expect.

    Seems the team needs to buck up their ideas on all fronts

  8. Hanah says:

    Does the average time include all the pit stops for front wing changes for Schumacher earlier this season? Haven’t Red Bull had fewer of those? If so, the Mercedes pit stops seem more impressive, given that they’ve had more necessarily long pit stops – their other stops must be really quick to keep the average so close to Red Bull.

    1. James Allen says:

      Anolmalies taken out – just the normal stops

  9. Phil says:

    Pit stop speed is really to do with a hands-on team manager, the chief mechanic and the people that design the pit equipment.
    Things like gas flowing the pneumatic guns,fittings,hose diameters etc to gain time, the pressure in the bottles….etc etc

  10. Martin says:

    Its surprising to see just how far off the back HRT are. I guess that with all the difficulties in getting the cars ready for the season the get a lot less time to practice though. I believe that some of the big teams spend a lot of time in the off season training the mechanics in the gym and practising stops.

    Would be interesting to see an article about how much training the top teams put in, James.

  11. DaveF says:

    Love or hate Red Bull you have to give them credit for being so professional and showing McLaren and Ferrari how it should be done!

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