Formula One: Pit stop time vs. Pit lane times

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Since the start of the 2016 Formula One World Championship DHL have been awarding teams for the fastest pit stop to take place during each F1 race. Until the British Grand Prix this accolade had been reserved for the Williams F1 Team but does fastest pit stop time tell the full story?

A 1.9 second pit stop (an accolade recently achieved by the Williams F1 team) may look fantastic on paper, but what speed was the driver doing when he entered the pit box? How much time was lost in ensuring he hit his marks perfectly? Changing tyres, adjusting front wings, cleaning visors and removing debris from sidepod’s, whilst exceptionally complicated and highly choreographed is only part of the pit stop process.  A more relevant or more complete measure of a team’s success during a pit stop is the total pit lane time.  The Mercedes AMG Petronas Pure Storage Pitwall launched at the British Grand Prix, within this dashboard are details of the top 10 fastest pit lane times through a race. If you compare the DHL fastest pit stop award to the fastest pit stop times you can some very different results.

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Taking this one step further the fastest pit lane time does not consider when the driver activates or de-activates their pit lane limiter, to build this into the calculation you need to consider the total time over of an inlap and an outlap. The issue with then comparing data of this nature between teams is that you have to consider outright vehicle performance. Which raises the question of what is the purpose of the award? If it is to award the out and out fastest team, that is covered through the actual race winner! If it’s to award an element of the race in which the team plays a more significant role maybe the fastest pit stop is appropriate, but is it actually relevant to the race?

As you will see in the video below from Mercedes AMG Petronas, with a focus on race wins, the team would rather have a steady pit stop which may by 3-5 tenths slower than the fastest pit stop, they focus on minimising errors in the pit stop process and optimising the vehicle entry and exit from the pit lane.

Finally, kudos to the Renault Sport F1 team for achieving the fastest pit lane time during the British Grand Prix.

You can follow the Hungarian Grand Prix through the Pure Storage Pitwall here

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