Imagine your local auto mechanic servicing your car in the time it takes you to sneeze and wipe up any residue from around your nostrils. That’s how quickly the Red Bull F1 team changed all of the tires on a car at the British Grand Prix on Sunday, bagging it the record for the fastest-ever pit stop in a Formula 1 race.
The finely tuned procedure took a mere 1.91 seconds to complete, breaking the previous record, set by McLaren in 2016, by just 0.01 seconds.
The Red Bull team achieved the record when it brought French driver Pierre Gasly into the pits on Lap 12 to give his car a new set of hard tires. The super-fast changeover helped Gasly go on to secure fourth place in the race — his best result of the season so far. Local guy Lewis Hamilton finished first.
Red Bull’s pit crew currently leads the overall standings in the season-long DHL Fastest Pit Stop Award, with Williams placed second and Ferrari third.
Every second counts in a high-octane F1 race, so the pit stops are a hugely important part of the contest. One wrong move by a single crew member and the driver could be stuck in the pit lane for a few extra seconds that could cost him the race, or vital points.
The time taken for pit stops shortened considerably in 2011 after a ban on refueling. The new rule paved the way for a flurry of pit-lane speed records as the various racing teams honed their methods to achieve astonishingly fast tire changes using highly specialized equipment.
Preparation is key when it comes to completing fast and flawless pit stops, with crews spending much of their time training at their home bases as well as at the tracks as the F1 circus criss-crosses the globe during the racing season.
But the high-pressure pit stops don’t come without risks, with mechanics at risk of injury if errors occur in the pit lane. An incident at the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2018, for example, saw a Ferrari F1 mechanic suffer a broken leg when Kimi Raikkonen was mistakenly released too early from the pit lane. Ferrari was fined around $55,000 for the error.
We’ve reached out to Red Bull to find out how it managed to achieve its record and will update if we hear back.