Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Hungaroring, 2011

Red Bull fastest in the pits but Ferrari are catching them

2011 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monaco, 2011
Vettel heads for the pits in Hungary

Red Bull’s mechanics are as fast in the pits as the RB7 is on the track.

They’ve been the quickest team in the pits in six of the eleven races so far this year.

Pit stops were a weakness in Ferrari’s game earlier this year but they’ve made major gains in recent races.

Fastest pit stop times at each race

This chart shows the fastest pit stop time (in seconds) for each team in every race so far. Use the controls below to show or hide different teams:

Australia Malaysia China Turkey Spain Monaco Canada Europe Britain Germany Hungary
Red Bull 22.52 21.893 21.091 20.112 19.887 26.269 22.402 20.319 23.137 20.11 19.664
McLaren 22.681 22.4 20.533 20.833 19.761 24.67 23.589 20.212 23.292 20.403 20.046
Ferrari 23.251 22.541 21.168 21.308 20.238 25.352 22.56 20.136 23.238 19.975 19.936
Mercedes 23.716 22.227 20.522 20.308 19.534 25.116 22.702 20.896 24.399 19.93 19.939
Renault 22.994 22.602 21.821 20.872 20.796 25.851 23.113 21.105 24.172 20.572 21.353
Williams 23.643 24.502 21.481 21.687 20.637 25.675 23.059 21.163 23.869 21.057 20.58
Force India 23.871 22.046 20.989 20.775 20.07 24.97 22.479 20.286 24.077 20.839 20.589
Sauber 23.438 23.28 21.473 21.715 20.5 28.642 23.687 20.545 25.386 20.882 20.57
Toro Rosso 23.1 22.888 21.928 21.769 20.741 25.045 23.338 20.46 24.095 20.954 20.36
Lotus 24.848 23.336 21.89 21.633 20.807 25.595 23.332 21.126 21.175 20.99
HRT 26.554 23.499 24.474 23.157 28.298 27.202 22.235 25.505 22.048 22.458
Virgin 23.792 24.416 21.908 22.779 21.17 26.464 24.143 21.9 24.959 20.762 20.613
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Monaco, 2011
Nico Rosberg heads for his pit crew

Red Bull were the quickest team in the pits in the first race of the year and in the last race at Hungary – as well as four of the races in between.

As last year’s world championship leaders they have the advantage of being situated at either end of their pits, which often gives their drivers a straighter run into or out of their pit box.

But this advantage isn’t worth as much as a slick pit stop procedure and a well-drilled team. Mercedes enjoyed the same benefit in 2010 but have remained one of the quickest crews despite losing it this year.

Ferrari have concentrated on their pit stops in recent races and it shows. They were never better than fifth-fastest in the first six races. Since then, they’ve never been out of the top three.

How quick the teams are at turning around pit stops matches their on-track performance very closely. But there are a few significant exceptions.

Force India, Monaco, 2011
Force India have been consistently quick in the pits

The first is Mercedes, who did the fastest pit stop times in three races this year: China, Spain and Germany.

Force India are another. From the Malaysian to the European Grand Prix they were consistently among the top four fastest pit stop times.

However HRT are lagging well behind even their closest on-track rivals. While Vitantonio Liuzzi and Daniel Riciardo may entertain hopes of racing the Virgins on Sundays, losing up to two seconds on every pit visit is not going to help their cause.

Average pit stop times at each race

This chart shows the average pit stop time for all of a driver’s pit stops (in seconds) in each race. Use the controls below to show or hide different drivers:

Australia Malaysia China Turkey Spain Monaco Canada Europe Britain Germany Hungary
Sebastian Vettel 23.32 22.408 21.764 20.402 20.215 28.536 23.119 20.593 26.504 20.259 20.322
Mark Webber 24.059 22.198 21.888 21.1 20.306 30.091 24.906 20.384 24.416 20.688 20.673
Lewis Hamilton 23.213 23.253 20.659 24.909 20.364 28.466 20.529 24.168 20.627 21.205
Jenson Button 22.992 22.451 21.925 21.808 20.295 25.26 25.313 20.6 24.216 20.952 20.966
Fernando Alonso 24.055 24.51 21.888 21.53 20.481 29.372 25.457 20.721 24.671 20.147 21.539
Felipe Massa 24.146 24.886 21.396 23.375 21.618 26.615 24.634 22.22 23.775 20.811 21.76
Michael Schumacher 24.505 22.355 21.295 23.016 20.341 35.084 23.592 24.345 27.447 20.332 21.01
Nico Rosberg 23.716 23.357 21.165 21.189 20.192 25.183 22.882 21.832 24.561 20.457 21.128
Nick Heidfeld 24.046 23.241 22.019 21.744 21.357 26.138 23.239 21.957 24.575 23.403
Vitaly Petrov 25.109 24.852 21.993 21.561 22.609 28.856 23.981 21.459 24.526 21.011 23.172
Rubens Barrichello 29.269 28.74 21.595 22.424 23.112 25.757 24.029 21.237 24.908 24.514
Pastor Maldonado 24.281 22.754 22.79 25.947 25.502 21.532 24.793 21.329 22.666
Adrian Sutil 24.925 22.298 23.585 21.246 21.423 26.458 25.869 20.666 25.685 20.859 21.448
Paul di Resta 24.598 23.056 21.604 20.999 20.256 39.807 24.746 20.818 34.458 23.106 21.333
Kamui Kobayashi 24.128 23.361 21.896 22.577 22.166 28.642 24.153 22.019 28.448 21.075 22.612
Sergio Perez 23.438 23.597 24.572 24.061 22.188 21.939 25.503 24.446 21.234
Sebastien Buemi 24.221 25.36 22.887 21.976 22.127 25.388 24.782 20.925 25.45 24.128 21.39
Jaime Alguersuari 25.903 23.236 22.419 22.114 21.444 26.729 24.749 21.247 24.407 21.376 22.544
Heikki Kovalainen 24.865 26.21 22.188 22.534 21.631 26.078 44.037 22.333 21.632 21.998
Jarno Trulli 24.874 25.516 22.645 22.716 22.363 25.908 42.643 22.729 23.118
Narain Karthikeyan 26.049 25.596 24.53 36.053 29.328 26.255
Vitantonio Liuzzi 31.064 23.983 37.493 23.157 28.298 31.792 23.153 26.074 22.048 23.888
Timo Glock 24.523 26.139 21.849 26.827 24.752 21.965 25.188 21.752 21.255
Jerome dAmbrosio 25.853 25.334 22.852 23.808 22.622 26.835 27.502 22.097 27.085 22.175 29.643
Pedro de la Rosa 27.164
Daniel Ricciardo 26.407 23.186 22.686
Karun Chandhok 25.556
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Monaco, 2011
Lewis Hamilton had two of the three quickest stops in China

A quick pit stop is great but it’s not much use if a team can only do it once in ten attempts. A crack pit crew need to match their speed with consistency – and here Red Bull are also on top form.

Similarly McLaren turn around Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button’s cars in more or less the same amount of time each weekend.

Ferrari have been less consistent. Felipe Massa has had some particularly bad pit stops, though the effect of those has sometimes been heightened by poor in- and out-laps, particularly in Hungary.

On the face of it, Nico Rosberg appears to have had quicker pit stops than Michael Schumacher. But Schumacher has had to change his front wing in several races this year due to damage.

How teams are sharpening up their pit stops

Since in-race refuelling was banned at the end of 2009, the speed of a pit stop has been determined solely by how quickly the crew can get the old tyres off and the new ones on.

A slow pit stop can have obvious consequences. A clear recent example being Massa leading Sebastian Vettel into the pits on the last lap at the Nurburgring, then following him out after a fumbled stop.

Teams have been experimenting with different approaches to make their pit stops quicker and more consistent.

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Monaco, 2011
Teams use boards to help their drivers be more accurate

The use of high-visibility boards to help drivers stop on their marks with greater accuracy is widespread. Red Bull took the concept a step further, using lasers to help Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel position their cars perfectly.

A further example of Red Bull’s attention to detail was evident at Silverstone. In the damp conditions before the start the team used air blowers to dry the surface in their pit box.

Mercedes have used techniques borrowed from their DTM team to guard against lost wheel nuts – see the video above for more.

Some teams have even adjusted the rigging above the cars to ensure maximum air pressure is being driven to the guns the mechanics use to remove and replace the wheels.

The new tyre compounds used in F1 may have made overtaking on the track easier, but it hasn’t relieved the pressure on the pit crews. With up to four pit stops in dry races instead of one, they’re busier and more important to a driver’s performance than ever before.

Notes on the analysis

The data used is the FIA’s statistics on time spent in the pit lane for each pit stop. A complete list of stationary times for every pit stop is not available.

Timo Glock’s average pit stop time for the Australian Grand Prix was ignored as he spent almost nine minutes in the garage at one point.

Drive-through and stop-go penalties were ignored.

2011 F1 season statistics

Images ?? Red Bull/Getty images, Allianz, Force India F1 Team, McLaren, Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo

35 comments on “Red Bull fastest in the pits but Ferrari are catching them”

  1. Very interesting. I always thought Mercedes were the fastest in the pits. It shows how RBR drivers have had the equipment to make for the pits without failing. Although the race they did fail it probably cost Vettel the race. Mclaren’s pit stops aren’t the fastest, but they consistently seem to get the job done.

    1. they seem to get the job done…like they did in Silverstone for Button?

    2. Well, as with everything in life, people need a motivation to do well. The teams try to engineer their pitstops as much as the cars but within the limits there is much room. One major motivation is racing for position, another can be incentives and yet another can be Ross Brawn standing across the track with a stopwatch, judging how well you are doing. He is the only one I know who actually does that but it seems to work.

    3. Well, they were last year. And they are still amongst the better teams, but Red Bull has overtaken them and Ferrari is closing in.

      1. tonyselby (@)
        11th August 2011, 23:10

        Agree with last point but ferrari coming on strong second half of season but red bull dominating no thanks to MW, Alonso can still be F1 champion ahead of Vettel if he has the right set up for the rest of the season

        1. interesting to see though that almost everyone one of Vettels average pitstops are quicker than Webbers bar silverstone where he had that wheelnut problem (although so did Webber in that race, just cost less time)

  2. i’d be great if someone could annotate that second picture of a mercedes pitstop, pointing out the role of each mechanic in the photo.

    great article!

    1. Check out this link to Wiki:

      It doesn’t have an annotated picture but you can get a good idea of who is doing what from the description.

  3. Schumacher has had to change his front wing in several races this year due to damage.

    Then it’s a good thing that the proposed 2014 regulations call for smaller front wings, because otherwise, Mercedes might have to set aside a full budget for Schumacher’s front wing breakages …

    1. You expect Schumacher to still be driving then?

      1. Maybe not, but Barrichello will be! :P

  4. I think credit should be given to Virgin Racing…one of the newer teams that has only been in F1 for 2 years and they look to be on the whole second quickest at pit stops. Will do them good in the future if they find any extra speed

    1. I think you have somewhere misread the graph, Viring are rather 2nd or 3rd from the backside of the grid in fastest stops and somewhere in the middle for averages.

  5. I’d be very interested to see the slowest pit stop of each driver graphed for each race.

    1. You can view a list of all pit stop times for the last two races:

      Germany pit stops and tyres used
      Hungary pit stops and tyres used

      That data for earlier races will be available here later.

  6. The second graph shows how most drivers had below-average pit stops at Monaco.
    HRT should really improve, they’re always way back, whilts Lotus and Virgin occasionally challenge higher teams in the stops.

  7. HRT with the slowest pit stops. Talk about consistently setting the bar at its lowest..

    1. Of course you could choose to notice that in the last few races they have been remarkably quicker…. In the last 3-4 HRT have been competitive with Virgin and Lotus. Which is what they should try and aim for.

  8. HRT’s cause probably isn’t helped by running over their own pit crew.

    1. I do hope that guy is okay. Apparently his head injuries were quite serious. I’ve asked a few times over the winter and this year if anyone knows if he was okay in the end, but no one seems to have any information. I assume he is.

    2. That is sickening.

  9. Looks like McLaren could do with implementing that wheel nut technology…

    1. They could also teach the lollipop guy to not release the car until the gun mechanic tells him the wheel is attached. Would help!

  10. Oh I can see. Massa definitely have been suffered from poor pit stop.

  11. This is an unrelated note, but looking at the race video on for Hungary I can’t help but make the comment, once again, that Massa is completely useless on a wet track, as has been well documented over the years. You would expect an experienced driver like him to at least not spin out of the track ***every time*** it is wet. This is unbelievable.

    1. Every time it’s wet? Like Brazil 2008?

  12. UKfanatic (@)
    11th August 2011, 22:00

    Great arcticle. Keith your the best statistician.

    1. Thank you :-)

  13. ferrari might of had some quick ones.

    but they have equally had some rubbish ones too. for both alonso and massa. They rarely get through a races with all good pit stops.

    1. Yeah, if they can work on consistency they’d be able to take it to Red Bull and Mclaren fairly easily.

  14. You would think that HRT would make it’s best effort in all those little things that don’t require a massive budget. I guess it has to do with the negative emotional inertia of dragging along a very slow car. But it can work the other way around, (a great challenge in the cusp of auto-sport) and one wonders if a fast pitstop and winning attitude would translate to places up the grid.

  15. Do some drivers not quite stop on the mark each time – so the crew have to adjust? I’m wondering why Massa’s consistently losing out, and there was an extreme example from d’Ambrosio…

    Any chance of an out-lap graph for all the drivers? Is that data available? That might show if anyone has an advantage, and by how much, when getting new tyres up to speed.

    1. All the lap times for all the drivers are in the post-race team reviews which go up on a Monday – they will include the out-laps.

      You can also find all the lap times for some of the recent races here – the rest for this year will be added later:

      2011 F1 statistics: Race charts

      As for doing a side-by-side comparison, it’s not something I produce at the moment but could do in the future.

  16. They aint got nothin on this guy!

  17. Younger Hamii
    12th August 2011, 23:29

    HRT are the slowest in almost every Department,EVEN PITSTOPS

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