Although the 2024 Formula 1 season is just around the corner, F1Technical’s senior writer Balázs Szabó takes a look back at the last year’s championship, picking up some key facts regarding the pit stops.
A Formula 1 pit stop revolves around a perfectly-placed stopping, changing tyres and seamless accelerating away.
The history of F1 pit stops is almost as old as the sport itself. It dates back to the 1950s when they were primarily used for refueling. In the 1960s, pit stops began to include tyre changes and minor repairs. By the 1980s, pit stops had become a vital part of F1 racing when complex strategies also started to emerge.
While refuelling was permitted from the 1994 season to the 2009 season, pit stops generally lasted for six to twelve seconds. It meant that mechanics had more than enough time to fit new tyres on cars.
However, mid-race refuelling was banned in 2010 which prompted teams to revise their pit stop procedures. The primary purpose of pit stops have been changing tyres with minor crashes sometimes also forcing mechanics to replace the nose and front wing assembly during pit stops.
Teams have constantly worked on their pit stop performance, updating not only their hardware but also fine-tuning the positioning and harmony between the mechanics. A pit stop typically takes 2 to 3 seconds to complete.
Today’s pit stops involve a large group of people. The number of people who directly work on or around the car is 19. There are mechanics responsible for wheel-off, wheel-on, and gunners, front and rear jack, two wing adjust, two stabilisers and traffic light controller.
Furthermore, there are people standing in front of the garage, poised with side jacks and with fire extinguishers. However, there are further team members who play a pivotal part in a perfect pit stop. Strategists determine the timing of the stop; the race engineer delivers tyre and wing adjust information and the team manager calling the crew out into the box.
There are alternates for every spot who train for the day when the primary is ill or injured.
We proudly present: A new world record for @McLarenF1 and a resurgence for @ScuderiaFerrari, yet the @redbullracing crew were again invincible. For the sixth time in a row, the raging bulls reigned supreme in the pitlane and won the DHL Fastest Pit Stop Award.#F1 #DHLF1 pic.twitter.com/BpfVQCo3RL— DHL_Motorsports (@DHL_Motorsports) December 3, 2023
The DHL Fastest Pit Stop Award was established in 2015 to "recognize outstanding teamwork and performance from the unsung heroes who make a vital contribution to the drivers’ success on the track."
The scoring system is the same as the race itself with the constructor behind the fastest pit stop of a Grand Prix awarded 25 points while the second gets 18 and so on.
Having taken glory in the DHL standings every year since 2018, Red Bull once again stand tall above everyone else to wrap up that particular title for 2023 as well. The Milton Keynes-based outfit scored a total of 543 points, beating Ferrari in the standings, with the Italian outfit having taken 468 points.
McLaren started the 2023 F1 season off the pace, but their upgrades lifted up the Woking-based outfit in the pecking order, enabling Oscar Piastri to take his maiden F1 victory in the Qatar Sprint race. The British team delivered extremely strong performances in the pit lane as well. Their consistent and quick tyre changes saw McLaren seal third place in the DHL Pit Stop Award.
AlphaTauri took fourth, followed by Alpine and Aston Martin. Mercedes avoided serious mistakes during their pit stops, but they were usually unable to keep up with the quickest stops, meaning that they finished down in P7 in the DHL Pit Stop Award.
Williams scored 50 points which was enough to beat Alfa Romeo with Haas rounding out the standings.
While the DHL Pit Stop Award not only the quick, but the consistently fast tyre changes, the absolute quickest pit stop belonged to McLaren. The papaya-coloured team serviced Lando Norris’ MCL60 at the Qatar Grand Prix in just 1.80s with which McLaren achieved a new world record, surpassing Red Bull’s previous best time of 1.82s.
Ferrari and Red Bull also managed to crack the 2-second barrier as the Italian outfit changed the Pirelli tyres on Charles Leclerc’s car in Qatar in just 1.98s. The same time was required for Red Bull to service Sergio Perez’s car in Hungary. McLaren had another sub 2s pit stop change, achieved with Piastri at the Las Vegas Grand Prix.