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Celebrating the fastest ever pit stop
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Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Sep 2012   |  8:40 am GMT  |  39 comments

McLaren sponsor TAG Heuer this weekend honoured the McLaren pit crew which set a new pit stop record this year, changing all four wheels and tyres in 2.31 seconds in Germany.

It was the first sub 2.5 second stop ever seen in F1 and to celebrate it, each member of the 22 strong pit stop crew was given a TAG Heuer Carrera watch.

“A Formula 1 pitstop is the perfect representation of seamless teamwork. Every movement needs to work in perfect sync for a stop to be a success,” said Jenson Button, who was the lucky recipient of the stop in Germany.

“Getting it right has become an art-form, and I’m incredibly proud that the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team has worked so hard to become the best in the pit lane.”

The target for all the crews is to do a stop in under 2 seconds. It requires very advanced pit equipment, which few of the teams have at present, special quick release jacks and wheel guns that retain the wheel nuts.

The reaction time of the driver is also a factor, when he sees the lights indicating it’s time to go, he takes just over a tenth of a second to react and drop the clutch. Guiding the car into the pit box correctly is also vital, so that the car stops exactly where the mechanics are.


Germany was a turning point for McLaren in many ways; not only did it highlight the astonishing turnaround in McLaren’s pit stop performance, from a series of botched and slow stops at the start of the year into consistently the fastest, since Sporting Director Sam Michael carried out a root and branch reworking of the process. But also the aerodynamic update package on the car signalled the start of a dominant period for the team. Button finished second in Germany and the team has won every race from pole since then.

Lewis Hamilton’s pole in Singapore is the team’s fourth in a row.

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39 Comments
  1. 180110 says:

    The Pit Stops getting faster in a way also provides greater emphasis on getting it right from the pit crew’s point-of-view, for the time loss between a really quick stop and a botched up one would be higher.

    p.s. Even Lotus managed a 2.44 sec stop for Jerome I guess, or Romain. Not Kimi for sure.

  2. Simple says:

    Yep, definitely time to sack Sam Michael.

    1. Sebee says:

      is he responsible for gear boxes?

      1. Simple says:

        Must be!

    2. **Paul** says:

      lol yeah I agree!

      Fair play to Sam, he’s really moved the whole pit stop thing along a bit. If someone came up with something on the car that saved 1.5 seconds a race they’d certainly put it on the car, so it’s a massive credit to Sam that he’s drilled that team into such good shape they can make those savings.

  3. Concalvez says:

    Anyone noticed Lewis is not in this picture ?

    1. mel_drew says:

      Gosh, yes. You’re right. Obviously means that Lewis off to Mercedes in a hissy fit. Nothing at all to do with the fact that the stop in question was carried out on Buttons car.

    2. Stephen Craig says:

      Yeah, but why would he be? Lewis wasn’t involved in this record breaking pit stop.

    3. Yes ! maybe the team know he is off to Merc and have started to ‘airbrush’ him out of milestone photo shoots, wonder if they have asked him to leave his phone at home ? !

    4. smiley says:

      No, totally missed that! But then I also missed Lewis sitting on Jenson’s lap during that particular pit stop.

    5. Pranav says:

      Because the pit stop was done on Jenson’s car. Only the guys working on Jenson’s car are in the photo, not the whole team.

      Jeez, you guys are desperate.

    6. Bring Back Murray says:

      He was too busy tweeting the details!

    7. Ryan Eckford says:

      Yes, I think that only the people involved in the world record were allowed to be in the photo, so Lewis wasn’t going to be in the photo since it was done on Jenson’s car. I don’t think it is sign of Hamilton’s future in F1.

      Can you confirm this James?

    8. michael grievson says:

      Probably because the pitstop was done on JB’s car

      1. Blade Runner says:

        Exactly and Jenson did play an important part in the record too dont forget.

        James mentions the reaction times to the lights changing but he also had to stop the car in the optimum place too for it all to work in that record time…

  4. Trent says:

    Amazing when you think about it.
    F1 pitstops are a pleasure to watch in the post-refuelling era.

    Why is that the F1 graphics don’t show the stationary pitstop time live (ie only shown after the car leaves the pitlane). I realise some would see the total time as the most relevant measure, but it’s pitstop time that gets the headlines and is comparable from one track to another. It seems a real step backwards that this info is provided on the spot.

    Incidentally, I recall back in the 1980′s a stop of 6.5 seconds was considered lightening. Would be interested to know how much the improvements are due to equipment, and how much due to procedural improvement?

    1. Mr says:

      I assume the pit stop time is calculated by subtracting a drive-through only time from the total time.

      1. gggggggg says:

        James, I thought this also. Are you able to confirm?

      2. gggggggg says:

        I think this might give the answer:

        Michael claimed a 2.31-second stationary time for its best stop, which was timed at 2.4s by the FIA

        Which I believe is just silly, I like the idea they measure the pit lane, work out a time based on pit lane speed, then subtract that from the time in the lan when doing a change.

        IF a driver comes into the pit box at 1km/h, then the team will have a better chance of doing a fast stop. If they come in at 50km/h, then that woul dbe harder. They could stall it also, or have to slow for traffic.

      3. James Allen says:

        Well the teams measure it with sensors in their garage. FOM for the TV does a subtraction method. They are usually out by about 0.1 to 0.2s, but in Singapore it was bang on. McLaren did 2.9 best time.

      4. Miguel says:

        Nope, I’m pretty sure that the pit stop time is measured by sensors in the pits.

  5. Andrew S says:

    Many congratulations to McLaren

    And for those old enough to remember…

    Dedication, dedication
    Dedication, that’s what you need
    If you wanna be the best
    If you wanna beat the rest
    Oh-oh dedication’s what you need;
    If you wanna be a record break-er, Oooooh.

  6. Wayne says:

    This is bizarre, to reward the same people who cost Hamilton 40+ points through the worst cnsistent period of pitstop blunders I have ever seen at the beginning of the season. Even in that race they cost Hamilton 5 seconds in the very next pit-stop!

    People are judged how they perform over a year usually…. I know these guys work hard and I now know that they do not get paid extra for being on the pit crew (which is also bizarre) but still nett performance over the year must be -80 seconds.

    It’s all marketing over substance sometimes.

    1. Mathias Anderson says:

      This has nothing to do with evaluating the overall performance of the pitcrew though. It’s about celebrating a pitcrew has managed to break into a previously untouched territory.

      The discussion about the overall performance of pitcrews and especially the McLaren pitcrew is certainly valid. I’m even inclined to agree with your point of view, although it does look as though they are slowly clawing back those losses. However, celebrating new achievements is just something else entirely, marketing stunt or not. After all, marketing activities are what finances F1.

      1. Craig in Manila says:

        Yep.
        Looking forward to the first pitstop under 2.3 as it will be only fair and right that the whole pitcrew then heads off into the corporate area looking for the TAG-Heuer Representative and asking for some free watches…..

  7. Enya says:

    James, anything new in Hamilton’s case? McLaren or Merc?

    1. James Allen says:

      I still think Merc. There is a lot of information and misinformation at large. When the mist clears and the decision is announced we will be able to track it backwards and see how it unfolded.

      1. Wayne says:

        Now that is an article I can’t wait to read.

  8. Quade says:

    Why is Lewis not in the picture? McLaren has a terrible stench about it these days, I wish Ron never left.
    All Whitmarsh ever did was use Lewis as a lightning rod for his inept management, especially in 2011. I wonder when McLaren will celebrate the bright sunny Monaco day in which someone forgot their beachside towel in Jensens radiator?

    1. Blade Runner says:

      Lewis is not in the picture because he did not stop the car in the optimum place and react to the lollipop/lights to start moving again, Jenson did.

      1. Quade says:

        Really? Wow! And there I was thinking that McLaren was the team that made the victory red shirt famous for all of the team when just one driver hits the top step of the podium.

    2. Cliff says:

      What involvement did LH have in this record? The record was set during JB’s stop, no conspiracy, just a picture taken with the participants plus the bosses.

      1. Quade says:

        It doesn’t need a shaman to observe that there are severe managerial issues at McLaren.
        In my books, it is a confirmation of conspiracy for the manager of a team to allow the press descend in a maniacal circus on one of his drivers, while cuddling the other. Lewis has simply been used by Martin Whitmarsh’s as a lightning rod to deflect attention from his managerial failings.
        The other situations of 2011 (with special reference to the event in Canada) bear further witness.

      2. Blade Runner says:

        Oh come on, its no conspiracy its just fact, Lewis was not involved in that specific record.

        I would say though, that I think the Tooned animation series has an overtly Jenson bias, I’m sure Lewis is not THAT much shorter than Jenson. MW meddling again??????

      3. Cliff says:

        To prove a conspiracy you first have to present some credible evidence. I too want to see LH winning races, but most of the attention he has recieved from the press has been of his own making. As for MW favouring JB, if LH continues to deliver consistent results I’ve no doubt that you’ll see the pendulum swing back…if it’s not too late!!

  9. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Problems to see my comments this weekend…

  10. Davexxx says:

    This is a test. This is the 3rd time I’ve tried to add a comment and it doesn’t appear. Have I been Blacklisted again, like 2 years ago?

  11. Dylan Reynolds says:

    Hi James

    I have real issue with McLaren pouting that they have the fastest pit stop ever, even going so far as to say that its the first pit stop ever to be under 2.5 seconds. Massa did a 2.3 second pit stop in Canada 2011, the epic wet race that Button won. Pictorial evidence: http://t.co/o8WAy1A To me this is a marketing gimik to cover the bad press the team got when they were messing pit stops up and have been making noise about it since earlier in the year. Take nothing away from them, in true McLaren style they have really turned the situation around and I congratulate them on that, but perhaps it is focus points like this that are causing DNF’s. I’d rather see both McLaren’s finish the race 7 or 8 seconds down due to a pit error than a McLaren do a “fastest ever” pit stop and at least take the fight to Alonso.

  12. Like everything in F1, the top teams have managed to squeeze every last 1/100th of a second out of each and every aspect of racing. This is one of the main reasons I enjoy F1 so much, the insane attention to minute detail. Watching replays of sub 3 second pit stops is awesome, the choreography is so precise, the timing so perfect. It happens so fast it seems unreal.

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