Formula 1 pit stops are an essential part of any race. If they are not correct, your race could be disastrous. It’s possible to win a race if they are correct. Pit stop strategies and the number pit stops during a race are different and drivers rarely have the same pit stops. So, let’s look at how many pit stops are in a Formula 1 race?
F1 race drivers typically make 1-3 pit stops. The number of times a driver will stop will depend on the weather, track conditions, their rivals’ strategies, and potential car damage. However, drivers must stop at least once during a race in order to change their tires.
The stops strategy and the actual pit stops themselves can be complex. These processes depend on many factors, and they are executed with ease by highly trained personnel. So, let’s have a look at all the intricacies behind this vital part of an F1 race.
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What is the number of pit stops in an F1 race?
A Formula 1 race is incomplete without pit stops. New tires give cars more grip and allow them to go faster. Pit stops can be slow because drivers must drive slowly through the pit lane. The tire changing process can take between 1.8 and 15 seconds depending on the speed of the pit crew. They usually take about 2-4 seconds, if all goes according to plan.
It is therefore crucial to maintain the correct balance on race weekends. Too many pit stops can slow down your car due to the lost time. Too few pit stops can lead to a slower lap and cause problems on the track.
A race will see drivers stop anywhere from 1-3 times depending on the strategy used and any injuries sustained. It is possible for it to be three times, but this is very rare. F1 drivers must make at least one pit stop when driving in dry conditions. They must also change their tire compounds during this pit stop. Two different dry-weather (slick), tire compounds must be used during a race.
Five slick tires compounds are used in Formula 1 racing. These tires are rated from softness to hardness. Although harder tires are more durable and last longer in a race, they offer less grip and result in slower speed. Softer tires are much less durable, so they don’t last very long during a race, but the trade-off is that they provide a lot of grip and are much quicker than hard tires.
You can also find medium tires that fall somewhere between hard and soft tires. They have a little bit of each. They are more durable than soft tires, but they don’t offer as much durability as hard tires. They are faster than hard tires, but slower than soft tires.
Pirelli, the manufacturer of all Formula 1 tires will select three of the five types of tires to be used for each race weekend. The weekend’s hard tire will be the hardest, while the one with the most softness will be the weekend’s softest. The intermediate tire will be used for the race weekend.
The tires used will always be next to each other on the spectrum, so that means you won’t use the hardest tire on the range and the softest tire on the spectrum on the same weekend.
According to Pirelli, as of 2021, drivers will receive “two sets of hard tires, three sets of mediums, and eight sets of softs (soft tires) per race weekend. The team is responsible for managing their tires throughout practice and qualifying so that they are able to choose the best tire to use in the actual race. It is important that the drivers have at minimum two different compounds to use during the race.
What all the Tyres Will Do During a Formula 1 Weekend Race
On Fridays, teams can practice with different setups and tires to get a lot more data. These data will be combined with simulations from previous events and other data to determine the best tire strategy for the race.
The race will require teams to have a range of tires, some that haven’t been used and others that have been used only for a few laps. They should be able respond to changes in weather conditions or strategic decisions made to them by their competitors.
Drivers use all kinds of strategies depending on the track and their rival’s strategic decisions. To maximize speed, a driver might use soft tires at the start of the race. After about 15-20 laps, they may pit and put medium tires on the middle segment of the race. Finally, they might pit again towards end of race for another set.
They could start on soft tires and after about 15-20 laps switch to hard tires. After that, they could stay on hard tires until race end.
Overcuts and Undercuts: F1 Pit Stop Strategies
You might have seen a Formula 1 race, and you heard the commentators discussing overcuts and undercuts regarding pit stops. These terms can be confusing, so let’s explore them in a bit more detail.
Undercutting means that you make your pit stop sooner than the car in front. Because you’re on fresher tires, you can maintain a greater speed than the car you’re chasing who will be on older tires.
The undercut works by using these newer tires to either overtake the driver in front, who will be slower on their older tires, OR you force the car in front to stop. After the driver in front is overtaken, they’ll often stop for fresher tires.
However, if it all goes to plan, the car pitted earlier will have built a big enough gap between themselves and their rival to ensure that they can’t be caught.
Undercutting can sometimes backfire if your car is chasing you later than you. Because you have older tires, they can use the advantage of having fresher tires to catch up to you.
Undercutting requires proper execution. The driver must catch up to the driver in front of them, then keep their lead with slightly older tires.
The opposite of the undercut is the overcut. Instead of pitting ahead of the car you’re chasing, wait for them to do so and then continue on track, improving your track position. You have the chance to create a large enough gap between you and them while they are warming up their new tires.
However, this strategy can be risky. It is up to the driver to ensure that their tires are properly managed and get the most out of their older tires. It is also about timing the planned pit stop correctly as it is essential not to wait too long as this would ultimately compromise the driver’s speed out on the track because of how old their tires will be. This strategy is much more effective than the undercut.
F1 Pit Stops at Wet Weather Races
Drivers are not restricted from racing in rainy conditions. They don’t have to use more than two types of tires during the race.
Due to the difference in speed between the dry and wet tires, drivers often use multiple compounds in a wet race. The treads on wet tires help to displace water but it gives drivers less grip and makes the track slippery. This is why they are not recommended for driving at maximum speed.
If a race starts in the rain, drivers and teams will be looking for the first chance to change to dry-weather tires. Teams will often put on intermediate tires if the track isn’t sufficiently dry for the slick dry weather tires. These offer some water displacement and a bit more speed than the full wet weather tires, which displace a lot of water but don’t provide nearly as much grip as the other tires.
Switching to dry-weather tires can be risky. This is why timing is crucial. Drivers who apply slick tires too soon are more likely to slip off the tracks. The driver will still be in a disadvantage when the slick tires are applied too late.
What are some of the key terms used in Formula 1 pit stops?
You will often hear words used by drivers and their race engineers during a Formula 1 race that doesn’t make much sense. To understand Formula 1 pit stops, it is essential to know what these words/phrases are. The two main words/phrases you should know are ‘box’ and ‘double-stack.’
Box is used interchangeably with ‘pit’ and is often used more regularly. This is used by race engineers and drivers to signal that the driver must stop at a pit stop. It is derived form the German word „Pit Stop“. boxenstopp, Pit stop is also spelled that. It will often be used twice for maximum efficiency, which is why you will often hear the race engineer telling their driver to ‘box, box.’
Double stacking is when two cars are pitted from the same team on the same lap. The car leading the race will first go to the pits to change their tires. Their teammate will then follow the same procedure in the same lap.
This is common when a safety vehicle is being deployed to cause a hazard at the track. Drivers will be able to spend less time going in for a pit stop. The pit stop can take anywhere from 20-30 seconds, depending on how the track is set up. Pitting under a safety vehicle when cars are not able to overtake is a good idea, since it saves time.
Double stacking can prove dangerous because it requires more attention and skill from the pit crew that a regular pit stop. They have to have both sets of tires ready, make sure they don’t get mixed up, and ensure that the old tires from the first car don’t impede the second car or the pit crew.
Sometimes double stacking can be disastrous, as was the case for Mercedes at 2020’s Sakhir Grand Prix Bahrain. George Russell, who was filling in for Lewis Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas at the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain, had the wrong tires fitted to their car. Russell received Bottas’s tires, and Bottas was given Russell’s tires. Because each driver gets a set number of tires per race weekend, it was illegal for them to swap the tires. This caused both drivers to lose a lot time.
How Formula 1 Pit Stops Works
After the driver has been told to ‘box,’ their fate is no longer in their hands but rather in the hands of their pit crew. Their pit crew performs a quick tire change to make sure they are not stuck in the pitbox for too long.
When drivers enter the pitlane they must speed down to 80kph (50mph) during the race. This is for safety reasons. Drivers have a special button that they can press on their steering wheels to limit their speed in the pit lane. Drivers who fail to comply with the speed limit may be subject to a time penalty.
Formula 1 pit stops are complex and require more than 20 people. The teams practice them for hours in the offseason as well as during track sessions on race weekends. They should be as fast as possible, as it is in Formula 1. A split second can make the difference between being ahead or behind a chasing vehicle.
Each of 23 people involved in pit stops has a role. All are equally important. To change the tires, a front jackman or rear jackman will lift the car off of the ground. Because they are highly skilled pieces of equipment, the jacks they use can lift the car up to 300.000 pounds.
Four-wheel gunners are responsible to unfasten the old wheel and attach the new one. One person removes the tire and helps the wheel gunners. Another person puts on the new wheel. Three people are responsible for each attachment of the wheel to the car.
A pit stop requires two mechanics to hold the car still. If necessary, another two adjust the front nostril cone.
The mechanics will quickly change your tires once the car is stopped. The average pit stop time for a front wing change has been around 2 to 3 seconds since 2010. Pit stops can take over 10 seconds if the front wings need to be replaced. It takes longer to replace and remove the frontwing than tires.
Red Bull performed the fastest pit stop in Formula 1 history at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, and they changed Max Verstappen’s tires in only 1.82 seconds.
The time taken for drivers to get into and out of the pit box is not included in this calculation. The entire process takes 20-30 seconds depending upon the track and the length of each pitlane.
Formula 1 pit stops are crucial parts of any race. The risk-reward equation is very high, as the whole process can take anywhere from 20-30 seconds to complete. To ensure that as little time is lost, it must be done efficiently.
If you do them correctly, you can win the race and gain an advantage over your competitors. For those at the front, it can make the difference between winning or coming in second.