Inside the Formula One pit stop with Williams
[music playing] STEVE NIELSEN: The pit stop is the one time that the outside world get to see what a team sport this is. Like a lot of things in Formula One, it’s just attention to hundreds of details. [drilling] Whenever we do a pit stop, we measure everything. We measure how long the gunman is on the trigger to get wheel off. [drilling] How long it takes for a wheel to come off, the new one to go on, and then the gun trigger to do it up again. [drilling] How long the jack takes to drop. [drilling] There’s really nowhere to hide. Much like the driver for the car, the pit crew, everything they do, every aspect of a pit stop is measured. [music playing] – These guys do not join a Formula One team to be part of the pit crew. This is almost their second job. STEVE NIELSEN: This is their Sunday job, yeah. So we employ them to build race cars for us, build and strip race cars and travel around the world.
And the pit stop is something they do while the race is going on because the team needs it. So it’s very much their kind of secondary reason for existing. – Do the guys enjoy it, do you think? STEVE NIELSEN: Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah. They are a hugely competitive bunch of individuals. And that makes my job easier. Just last weekend, 22 people ran the track on Saturday night– on a race night– after finishing their day’s work of qualifying, not because we made them but because they wanted to do it. So they understand and buy into the fact now that physical fitness, while it’s not the only thing you need, it’s one of the key ingredients that you have to have.
– How often do you drop somebody from the pit crew? STEVE NIELSEN: The way I like to think of it is like a football team. You have so many players on the bench. Occasionally, you change people out. People go through a bad patch or a good patch. – So how big’s your squad? STEVE NIELSEN: Our squad would be nearly 30 people, and we require 22. So you know, we have four gunmen on a car because there’s four wheels. But we have two other guys who are on the bench who are equally as capable. – How much do the drivers practice the pit stops? STEVE NIELSEN: A lot. The driver– you can see the marks there– he needs to stop within 10 centimeters of those marks.
We consider that to target. So if he goes 30 centimeters long, or to the left, or to the right, that means the guys are in the wrong position. That slows the stop down. – What’s the fastest you’ve ever recorded in practice? STEVE NIELSEN: 1.78. And as I said earlier, we have so much data. If we take the fastest time of each corner ever achieved, we got a time of about 1.6. So we know there’s a theoretical possibility to go to because we’ve individually done that. So there’s always something to chip away at and to aim at. [drilling].
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