Gone in two seconds: new Red Bull documentary charts the evolution of F1 pitstops
Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen
Posted By: Editor   |  26 Oct 2016   |  7:56 am GMT  |  28 comments

Red Bull has a produced a documentary looking at the history of Formula 1 pitstops to coincide with the third anniversary of its sub-two second stop at the 2013 US Grand Prix.

The Milton Keynes-based squad serviced Mark Webber’s RB9 In 1.923s to set a new world record. At the 2016 European Grand Prix, Williams officially equalled that record by turning around Felipe Massa in 1.92s, although the team’s telemetry data reportedly recorded the stop as taking just 1.89s.

The documentary, titled ‘The History of the Pit Stop: Gone in 2 Seconds’, is presented by former F1 driver David Coulthard and it covers the evolution of pitstops from the very start of the world championship up to the rapid wheel changes we see in modern F1.

Felipe Massa

Coulthard describes the changes from the abandoned pit complex and grandstands at the former Reims circuit in North East France and speaks to former F1 drivers John Surtees, Gerhard Berger, Jos Verstappen and Webber about their different experiences in the pitlane.

The documentary also features an extended focus on Gordon Murray and the 1980s Brabham squad, which brought in-race refuelling back to F1 with the BT50 – although the practice was subsequently banned in 1984 before being reintroduced between 1994 and 2010.

Murray and his team, which was owned at the time by future F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, engineered a way to save time over the course of a Grand Prix by refuelling the BT50 using adapted beer barrels and wardrobe-like structures heated with fans to keep the tyres warm.

Gordon Murray Bernie Ecclestone

“I used to read the rule book to death and try to find a loophole, a way around the regs for that sort of unfair advantage, if you like,” says Murray.

“I was thinking about the weight, I was always interested in weight saving. One pound of weight equated to exactly one hundredth of a second a lap and that was pretty constant. It didn’t take long to just to do the mathematics and think ‘well hold on a minute, the fuel is a huge percentage of the car weight’.

“So if you could halve that weight and go X many seconds a lap quicker, if you had a really quick, efficient pitstop you could stop halfway through the race and then win the race just on the reduced weight.”

Gone in 2 Seconds will be available on demand at www.redbull.tv

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Excellent documentary, much more than it’s title suggests. Thanks for pointing it out.


I remember during the refueling days that a crew member would attach something on a long, thin pole to the rear of the car – I assume that was something to earth the vehicle to eliminate the potential for static discharge, however I never actually knew if that was the case. Anyone care to set me straight?


Hi Brett,
A year plus latter I came across this article and your question. 🙂
The screens you’re asking about were used to protect any fuel spillage from the fuel nozzle to reach the red hot exhaust which was placed on top of the bodywork at the time. They (the screens) were shaped to match the bodywork shape, with some padding at the bottom of it, to avoid damage to the bodywork.
The grounding of the cars was done with metal strips bolted to the ground at the pit box. I don’t see those any more, so I guess grounding isn’t necessary as it used to be, even though cars these days do carry way more electricity with them, compared to what it used to be during the refueling days.
I guess back them they’ve grounded cars to avoid potential sparking from built up static electricity, while refueling. Now, since refueling is banned, no need to ground the cars any more.


Thanks for that, it might be from over a year ago but I appreciate your comment!


They used to have metal strips attached to the ground that the cars would touch when in the pit box in order to ground them, but maybe they have done things differently in different eras. Here is an image of the metal strips in the middle of the box (they look like a rake) from Singapore in 2008:



could be the starter motor or that screen that was placed between the fuel cap and the exhaust
i always wondered if those were shaped to the car or were just hard boards, or flimsy screens

when the exhausts started getting placed under the cars that went away, or was there no refuelling by the time teams came up with blowing the diffuser with exhaust sped gasses?
i haven’t a clue, the screen is real though, think it came into effect as a response to the verstappen fire but i was still learning to walk at that time


They used to do something like this with the top-exiting exhausts they used in the late-90s/early-00s, but that was to protect the mechanics from the hot exhaust gases!


A starter in case the engine shuts off? I think the cars had a very small battery by that time. Now the cars have big batteries and can run with electro power to start the fuel engine.


I’m pretty sure you’re correct there – Good memory anyway 🙂


Red Bull
Self promoting juggernaut rolls on 😉


It’s funny that Williams spent the best part of this year perfecting ‘the very fast pit stop’ but didn’t think of making the movie. As always, a big team milked their own success from under their noses.


Good point. Coulthard is one of the owners of whisper films, and I guess might still be on the red bull pay role as some kind of ambassador. It might be that whisper films had the idea and approached red bull to fund it because that’s where they had the best connections. I wonder if they make come if the other red bull films for their other sports….


What’s happened to the two second stop?

Seems it was basically the standard two years ago, now no one comes close?

Around 2.4-3.0 is the accepted. You’d think half a second could make all the difference to a podium finish?

Is it because Mercedes are so far out in front, what’s the point?


James, question of a different kind:
Will F1 drivers be allowed to put on some more weight for the 2017 season? Nico Rosberg was described as being knackered during the latest wider tires test.

Will we see drivers passing out next year? All this dieting sounds a bit sad.

Just wondered whether drivers could actually eat a good huge burger in Austin last weekend..


Shame the movie doesn’t show much pitstop footage from the 80s.

There is footage of a Ferrari falling of the jacks once. Also Lotus F1 experimented with some kind of surfboard jack to lift the car.

The lollipops that disappeared. What else has the footage missed? Williams eternal wheelnut problems.


A great little film – thanks for highlighting it – but as you suggest jmv, made without purchasing a single piece of modern F1 footage! A little bit of a shame to not be able to watch many of the events that they talked about.


I’m wondering with the current way pit-stops are conducted if those 1.9’s are ever likely to be beaten?
Also, with the increasing focus on safety what are the chances when we hear the word ‘box’ over the radio we actually see the cars drive into a box?
Can or will they design an outer wall between the garage and the pitwall that could prevent errant and homeless wheels from disappearing down the pitlane and unsure the guys working on the outside tyres are protected from them, or drivers?
Food for thought..


I’m still amazed they allow for a front jack man to stand in front of a car travelling at motorway speeds, completely relying on the driver who only hits the brakes at the very last millisecond


You should see the old footage when there was no pitlane speed limits — they were a lot braver / stupider then!


True. Even NASCAR make sure the car has come to a complete stop before allowing the jack-man to get out there and perform his duties.
Plus F1 has a history of being re-activate when it comes to safety so maybe it’ll take someone to get both ankles broken before changes are made in that regard.


I remember the Brabbham boys doing it in 5 seconds back in the day, a big deal at the time.


Formula 1 – the most (supposedly) high tech spectacle on earth………and yet Kimi retired in Texas because of a cross threaded wheel nut, due to the axle getting getting a bit too hot causing the “seating” of the nut to cross thread, meaning the wheel isn’t properly clamped to the retaining disc bell. How old fashioned…….


“Gone in 2 Seconds will be available on demand at http://www.redbull.tv



Oh right – it’s there now. Only you have a better chance of finding it using Google than by starting from Red Bull TVs home page!


Yeah looking at Red Bull TV’s home page you would think that they’re not even in Formula 1. Very wierd!!


I watch a lot of the mountain biking on RBTV and the search is known to be atrocious!! Considering RB are a media company as much as a sickly drinks peddler you’d think they’d get this right.


I’m glad you mentioned that as I’ve been searching the RedBull site on and off for the last few hours and failed to find it. Perhaps James could update his article with the actual link? http://www.redbull.tv/film/AP-1P6BWQ9JS1W11/the-history-of-the-pit-stop

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