Le Grand Retour
Paul Ricard 2018
French Grand Prix
F1 fans get to try their hand at pit stops
Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Jul 2011   |  9:29 pm GMT  |  25 comments

Today we ran the JA on F1 pits stop challenge outside the Hilton in Park Lane, London. The event was laid on by McLaren sponsor Hilton and we had a car for an hour, plus instruction from experienced McLaren mechanics.

It was another example of giving a fans a chance to get up close to the sport and find out what it takes to perform one of the most high pressure jobs in a Grand Prix weekend.

Some of the best drilled pit crews are doing pit stops of all four wheels in under four seconds this season, so how would our 16 JA on F1 readers manage when the heat is on?

Here’s a Flip video I shot of the experience. Actually one pair, Stan and Stu, managed to do a complete tyre change in 5 seconds, which is pretty good. They won a pair of tickets to the British GP from Hilton, but were a bit disappointed not to get a job offer from the McLaren team manager.

Here’s how they got on (apologies for the wind noise on the Flip camera I was using!)

Featured News
Editor's Picks
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

Hi James,

I really enjoyed this but I seem to recall Hilton where also filming that day, do you have any idea if they’re publishing their clip online too?

Thanks Again,



I don’t. THey had a big crew there didn’t they?


I wish I could have gone! Congrats to the winners and everybody who got to take part in this amazing day and thanks to JA for giving his readers the chance!


Ferrari used to allow members of the public to try this at various things like motorshows. They also timed it with a winner at the end. They didn’t allow you to put the replacement nut on in the wheel gun though, the gun man had to spin it on and zap the wheel gun onto it (to ensure that it didn’t get cross-threaded). You were allowed one explanitory/practice. My best mate an I managed 9.something seconds (I was on the gun he passed in the new wheel and the Ferrari guy took the old wheel off). Top of the leader board was ~6s if memory serves me correctly, and yes that included putting the nut on by hand initally!

It’s well worth a go if you get the chance, it’s nowhere near as easy as you’d think. The wheel guns are pretty brutal devices.


Gutted to have missed out again,at least one woman got to go, F1’s not just for boys!!! But it looked fab for the people who got to go, Keep up these great oppotunities/events James. I’m suprised Red Bull haven’t got in on the act with Maclaren with these Fans events as Christrian Horner always seems keen to appeal to fans on the BBC?

Douglas Revill

Fantastic event – I reckon I could do it in 5.05 though! Good on you for organising this James. It’s hard for the fans to get close to F1, and this is a great way to do it. I hope we see a lot more of this kind of event in the future.


Sorry to have missed out. A great initiative though and fantastic to see. Thank you.


F1 needs to do more of this. A great interactive way of gaining new fans to the sport. Well done McLaren!


I remember when I did one down in Brackley with B.A.R. We were cheated out of a win but that’s another story. I was surprised (and caught out) by how little room/space there was between the wheel rim and the break dick. Could only have been a couple of mm, and not enough for two or three of my thick fingers! Plenty a blood there then!


Oh……brake disc. Gorrit.


Thank you James for such a fantastic experience! I did the airgun and you don’t realise how difficult it is just to align the gun’s head to the wheelnut!…an excuse for not winning of course! 😛


Great opportunity for a number of F1 fans to gain an understanding of how difficult the wheel changing is. And of course was in the quite lane – no F1 cars whizzing past; no noise of engines; not having to be aware of the car about to depart….

Great opportunity for a few people and for others on this site to hear the feedback.

James, thankyou for organising events around F1 and providing feedback.


Movies, signed books, pitstop competitions, tickets, weekend packages with awesome odds of winning, answers to questions straight from the source, plus the odd good content article. 🙂

All and all likely to be voted #1 F1 site by fans. I hate to say it but we better enjoy it while it’s here before some media house buys out James or he picks up some public relations gig at McLaren like Bishop and all that will remain are memories of what used to be at this URL.


I hear the News of the World is going cheap James….


LOL!! Brilliant!


If loving you (this site) is wrong I don’t wanna be right. Just beat another fan to that quote by .0000001sec. It’s already #1.


James, nothing to do with this article but is there any chance that you can find out why we can’t get a live timing screen on the red button on the TV? When possible I always use the laptop with the TV and get a much better insight as to whats going on. I’m sure hard fans would drool over maybe a 50/50 split screen with TV pictures one half and live timing the other. Sorry for jumping in on here!


James, sitting here screaming at my computer once again as we yanks get left out of the fun. Any chance you could talk with your connections in the teams suggesting they do something cool like this in Austin next year. If I had the frequent flyer miles I would have come across the pond just to take part in this even if I didn’t win the tickets.


Seems like McLaren are the only one trying to bring F1 to the fans and go out of their way to bring more interest to the sport.


Team Lotus do loads of stuff too, like open test days. And they have a really good social media presence

Aaron (ChimpSafari)

I had a great time today. Thanks for setting this up JA and Hilton.


I was really disappointed not to be a part of this today… I hope another great opportunity like this comes along soon 🙁


Hi James,

Thanks for a great lunch hour  Never thought I would get so close to an F1 car. It was great fun and I have lots of cool pictures 🙂




I had a really fantastiic time. It was great fun! Thanks to everyone involved in organising it 🙂

stephanie isherwood

Yay for my friend Helen being the only girl!

Top Tags