Williams change tyres in less than three seconds in pre-season practice

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Williams drivers can expect super-quick tyre changes in 2010
Williams drivers can expect super-quick tyre changes in 2010

With refuelling banned we’re going to see some wickedly fast pit stops in 2010. How fast? The Williams crew are already able to swap four tyres in less than three seconds.

The fastest four-tyre pit stop recorded in F1 was 3.2 seconds – so who will be first to break that record, and just how quick can they get?

Williams media manager Claire Williams posted on Twitter that the team’s pit stop preparations were going well:

More pit stop practice on the agenda today, the guys have made it into the sub-three second range to change a set of tyres!

The team were also practising their pit stops yesterday and driver Nico H???lkenberg also had a go at changing one of the front wheels.

As pit stops this year will not be delayed by fuel rigs coming on and off the car a quick change will be decidedly entirely by how quick the mechanics are. A moment’s hesitation, a dropped wheel nut or a tyre that won’t go on properly could cost a driver a victory.

The last time F1 had refuelling-free pit stops Benetton set what is believed to be the fastest time every recorded for a tyre change in F1 – 3.2 seconds. That was on Riccardo Patrese’s car at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1993.

If Williams can repeat what they did in their dress rehearsal at the race, they’ll beat that time – but doing it under the pressure of a live race is a different matter.

All the other teams will be practising as well, of course. Will any of them have any clever tactics to get the tyres off and on quicker than their rivals? The first round of pit stops at Bahrain will be fascinating to watch.

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Read more: A brief history of pit stops in F1 (video)

Image (C) Williams/LAT

61 comments on “Williams change tyres in less than three seconds in pre-season practice”

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  1. Prisoner Monkeys
    21st January 2010, 11:25


    Just wow.

    1. I expect the old Benetton record to last halfway through the Bahrain GP…

  2. Changing 4 tyres under 3 seconds!
    Are they really human being??

  3. We’re going to have a lot more flying tyres this season.

    1. lol. i bet all four will fall off at once!

      1. Imagine that…

  4. I would be massively surprised if teams are able to comfortably carry pitstops out in 3 seconds. I would say the norm is going to be around 4.5 – 5 seconds. Especially with the stupid hubcaps the wheels now how.

    I would be interested to find out if the time the Williams team did involved a car that was driven in to the pit box rather than just a stationary one.

    The other interesting thing about the pitstops for just tyres is that during the 80’s and 90’s Williams were never the fastest or most consistent team at changing tyres. Mclaren and Ferrari were always the ones to beat. I wonder if Williams are trying to correct this for 2010

    1. The “stupid hubcaps” have been banned for this season, haven’t they? So back to normal wheels

      I can’t wait for pitstops to actually be INTERESTING again! :)

      1. pitstops are never really interesting.. They should go away with the two compound rule, let the team decide change or not change. After all they don’t do anything for the pit crew really. In Nascar it make sense to force them to do things with stops because after all they have pit crew competitions (arranged on tv, scored by judges who did the best pit stop). Nothing like that in F1. If a team and driver find a setup that would allow them to go not only fast but nurse the tires through the entire race go for it. Maybe they would be 1 second slower per lap. But over 50 some laps that’s equal time of 2 pit stops.

        1. Couldnt agree more, just let them race, would be great to see driver leading on almost dead tyres being caught by someone on hot healthy softs.

          Someone mentioned its bout giving corporate boxes guaranteed entertainment, i dont think thats far off the mark.

  5. mechanics with the fastest average time should be given some sort of price at the end of the season…

    1. or a prize!

      1. I’d barter one cookie and a pair of my old socks for a mechanics with a price.


    2. Why? Its a race not the x factor.

      1. Hey..how about an extra point to the team that the fastest pitstop?..hahaha

        Just like they used to have in old days for fastest laps.

  6. Mark Hitchcock
    21st January 2010, 12:08

    The start of the season can’t come soon enough, I’m so excited to see this!

  7. Excellent. I’m sure Williams held the record for the fastest pit stop in the early 90’s didn’t they? Something around the 3 second mark.

    Just a quick question. As refuelling is banned this year, and so therefore they no longer need to lug the refuelling rigs around. But how are they going to get the petrol in the car in the first place. I assume that up until this year, they used the same rigs they did for pit stops.

    Will they just use a funnel and a petrol can this season?

    1. The same way they always have done in the past :) you dont see the rigs in the pitlane during a qualifying session because they’re in the garage.

      1. But i’m assuming they still fuelled the cars for practise and qualifying using those refuelling rigs… they just did it in the garage.

        1. The mechanics always did the fueling for practice, qualifying and pre-race using glorified funnels. It allowed them to be much more exact in the amount of fuel they put into the car.

    2. Actually that was Benetton who holds the current record. Back in 1993 it took them a whopping 3.2 seconds to change the 4 tyres on Patrese’s car.

      You dont need tyre heaters anymore when you change tyres that fast. They heat up by themselves when a mechanic works so fast ;-)

    3. I think’s been mentioned before, but the ‘refueling rigs’ this year will essentially be a funnel and a jerry can (or at least something far less complicated that what we’d had for t he past few seasons).

  8. this is all good and well, but how exactly are pit stop times measured? we must remember that the actual time involves jacking up the car and releasing the lollipop. so it will actually still be quite hard to tell who is the quickest tyre changer in 2010…

    1. I never realised Modena were sponsored by Grana Padano cheese. Fantastic!

    2. Whoops lol :-D

    3. I think Super Aguri take the prize for best first pit stop in F1 – classic;


    4. I love Larini’s little wave to the lollypop man while he is waiting for the crew to get that tyre off!

    5. hahahaha. What a disaster! Was the smoke the engine overheating perhaps?

  9. I can’t actually think of anything (which is as complicated as a pit stop and which involves so many people), in any sport that can be done in less than 3 seconds.

    1. Set plays in American Football can be quite quick and easily more complicated than changing four tyres simultaneously.

      1. Jibing and tacking in a former America’s cup boat

  10. This is great. It means the driver players and even bigger role. The in/out lap, hitting his marks and attacking the speed limit line all beceom a greater proportion of the overall time taken to pit.

  11. When you start counting the time? When car stops?

  12. If I remember correctly, back in 93 with the ultra fast stops, Williams and Benneton both had front jackmen with a mechanical lifting device, most likely with pnuematic pumps. Williams were still using that system till 2008. Well according to the sporting regs that ive actually bothered reading, those lifting jacks are banned.

    Anyone realised that?

    1. I did. Seemed to save the jackmen from a lot of bending and arm-work. What I didn’t find out was why they were banned. Any ideas?

    2. the same rule prohibits jacks built into the car, like le mans.

  13. CounterStrike
    21st January 2010, 13:56

    My only query is that will the mechanics be forced to wear fireproof protection gear? http://www.simonlewis.com/ebay2/ph-mansell-ferrari-89-brazil-pits.jpgOr are they free to wear normal clothing just like pre-1994?

    1. It would be great to see them in normal gear, but I bet that because ‘elf an’ safety being the way it is these days, they’ll all be in fireproof overalls.

  14. Hydraulic or similarly equipped jacks are not allowed.

    This is going to be fun. :)

  15. I like this: the iSport GP2 team have reacted:

    Mechanics Dragi and Sam did a 2 man tyre change in 2.84secs. Eat that F1 guys who have 3 guys on each tyre!


    1. It was only one tire though.

      1. Yeah in fairness, it’s not a 200 mph unicycle you gotta work with! :D

        Love the attitude though ;) Good on em.

  16. There’s gotta be a case for timing it it down to the 1000th of a second now :)

  17. At Silverstone (either this year or in 2007) one of the teams had a f1 car in a tent for spectators to change tyres on.

    I’m pretty sure amateurs got tyre changes under 3secs there although I don’t remember what the fastest time was, I’ll try and dig through my old photos to see if I photographed the board.

  18. It will be interesting to see how all the teams crew performs in the heat of the race,pit-stop next year will be very challenging for the pit crew.Half second delay will be disaster.

  19. Stjoslin, I think those wheel covers (which I dislike too) are banned for 2010. I think sub-4 seconds will be the norm – no team is going to waste precious tenths on anything less than a flat-out, fast-as-they-can tyre change.

    I think also that pitstop errors will become more common in 2010, since the wheel changers will be a lot more rushed than previously. The pressure of knowing that they are now the limiting factor will be significant.

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