Reigning world champion team Red Bull completed the sports’ first ever pitstop in total darkness – The Pitch Black Pit Stop. With no ability to see the car, they had to rely on using only their intuition, muscle memory, touch.
Red Bull Racing are the most consistently quick team in the pitlane, having picked up the DHL Fastest Pit Stop Award for six seasons in a row. The Team had minimal preparation for the challenge, where they were blindfolded in just three pit stop practices at the Red Bull Technology Campus before tackling the blackout. Only on the day of the challenge were they fully plunged into darkness, with the visors of the pit crew’s helmets also blacked out, restricting all visibility. In front of 27 specialist cameras, it took 22 pit crew, 10 attempts to achieve what some deemed impossible. The end result was an incredible 2.84 second stop, only a second off the Team’s World Record setting time at the 2019 Brazil GP.
Filmed over the space of four hours the mission started with an 8.84 second stop and within four attempts the Team had brought their time down to 4.93 seconds. With breaks to recover, the group gave themselves the target of three seconds within 10 attempts, which they surpassed with their final time, going sub three seconds.
The Oracle Red Bull Racing production team worked with specialists infrared lighting techs and night vision experts to ensure the moment would be captured in high definition without compromise. They also developed specialist filming equipment to ensure the challenge was documented in both infrared and regular film, while specialists from the military were brought in to consult on the night vision equipment worn by the front and rear jack operators and driver of the electric pitstop car.
Speaking of the achievement, Red Bull's Sporting Director, Jonathan Wheatley said: “The Pitch Black Pit Stop was a challenge we could literally never see coming our way as a Race Team, but in typical Red Bull fashion, we have come to expect the unexpected! The sense of sight, being able to see the car, your teammates and what you are doing are intrinsic to a successful pit stop, so having that taken away presented some serious hurdles.
"However, what soon became clear is how fluid the Team are in their approach, communication, ability and cohesive spirt; that the task at hand was almost second nature. I was really proud of their performance. The time of 2.84 seconds is a strong stop even in broad daylight! I’m certainly not saying that I would like to turn the lights out in a race, but being able to pull this off so succinctly, in the pitch black, shows what a well-oiled machine the crew is and testament to the fact we have won six consecutive DHL’s Fastest Pit Stop Awards. Beautiful work.”