Operation pitstop PDF Print E-mail
The Panasonic Toyota Racing pit crew comprises 20 people, each with a very different and demanding job. All pit crew members are mechanics from the race team who work in the garage during the Grand Prix weekend. On Sunday they take the main stage in the toughest seconds of the entire weekend.

In the Pits with Panasonic Toyota Racing

The Crew

Lollipop Man
The lollipop man heads up the pit crew and it is his responsibility to organise the pit stop. He marks the area where the car should stop and ensures that the car is still while the mechanics change the tyres and refuel. Only when the tyres have been changed and all the necessary fuel is in the car, does he raise his lollipop to signify to the driver that he can leave the pits.

"I am the team Chief Mechanic, and my job is all about co-ordinating the mechanics' work at the factory and also throughout the race weekend. Holding the lollipop during the pit-stop is also a matter of co-ordination: you don't have time to think, you just check when four hands are raised in the air and the fuel hose is removed from the car to lift the lollipop and let the driver go. It has to be a very swift move to save those valuable tenth of seconds."


The wheelmen are in charge of making sure the old tyres come off the car and are replaced by new ones. Three wheelmen are allocated to each wheel, one responsible for removing and reattaching the wheel nuts, one to remove the old tyre and one to put on a new tyre.

Aside from changing tyres, one wheelman is responsible for cleaning the driver's helmet visor - an important job when drivers do in excess of 300kph and need to see where they are going.

If the driver requires aerodynamic modifications to his car, two wheelmen are prepared to make front and rear wing adjustments.

Refuelling Man
As soon as the car halts outside the garage the refuelling man attaches the fuel pump to the car to begin the refuelling process. Two mechanics assist him.

"I am one of the team's truck drivers in charge of transporting all the pit equipment and the cars to the European race locations. On Sunday I am also the refuelling man. The job is not as dangerous as people think: safety has improved significantly since refuelling has been reintroduced in F1. We wear fireproof overalls and helmets, and observe precise safety procedures. What people cannot imagine is the actual weight of the fuel hose. This is why I really need my two other colleagues' help to manage it!"
Jack Holders
 There are two people in charge of the jacks - a tool used to manually lift the car off the ground. There is one Jack Holder for the front and one for the rear. They use levers to lift the car off the ground immediately as it comes in for its pit stop.
Two crew members are on standby with fire extinguishers in the unlikely event of a fire breaking out.
"My role is important since the risk of fire does exist, considering the fuel being put in the car while the engine is still running. Fortunately, only two major incidents happened during pit stops since refuelling was reintroduced in F1 back in 1994, and I don't really have such an active part as the others in the pit-stop process. Standing at the back is impressive though seeing how all the pieces of the jigsaw come together!"
If either driver stalls the car, a gearbox mechanic is ready to manually start the car from the rear.

"We picked up our method from watching the races last year, but we have also done pit stops at Le Mans, so we knew exactly what to expect," says Team Manager Ange Pasquali. "We practised stopping in testing and we did some two weeks before Melbourne at Paul Ricard, but it is not really the same. There is no pressure and that makes it completely different".

The Pit Stop Process

Car arrives, stops in marked area (marked on the pit lane floor in front of the garage to show where the car is supposed to stop for the pit stop. If the driver misses the mark it costs valuable time to move the car manually back to the right position).

Lollipop man shows the side of his board which says "Brakes on".

Refueller puts the hose into the car.
Second One
The two jack holders, one at front and one at the rear, use levers to lift the car off the ground.

Four wheelmen, one assigned to each wheel, use airguns to remove the nuts, which hold the wheels in place.

Second Two
The wheels are taken off.

New wheels are ready waiting by the car - one wheelman for one wheel.

Second Three
New tyres are fitted to the car.

Air intakes are checked for blockages.

Second Four
- The wheel nuts are re-attached.
- As soon as the wheel is secured, the wheelman holds his hand out to signal (to the lollipop man) that he is ready.
- When all four wheelmen are ready the Jack Holders lower the car.
- If necessary wing adjustments are made.
- The lollipop man rotates his board to display "1st Gear".

Second Five to Ten
- Wheelmen step away from the car.
- One wheelman cleans the visor of the driver's helmet.
- A light appears on the hose when refuelling is completed.
- The hose is swiftly removed.
- Lollipop man checks for traffic and raises his lollipop to signify to the driver that he can go back out into the pit lane. The driver focuses on the lollipop and the millisecond it is raised, the driver accelerates off.

Every second counts...

The timing of the first pit stop in a race can signify to a certain extent the race strategy a team has ­ in other word how many times a driver will pit stop.

- 6-7 second first stop = 45 kilograms of fuel, normally indicating a three-stop race strategy
- 8 second first stop = 65 kilograms of fuel and normally means a two-stopper
- 10-11 second first stop = 80 kilograms of fuel and means a one stop strategy


Fast facts

- The Panasonic Toyota Racing team practices pit stops twice a week during the winter break at its factory in Cologne, Germany.
- During a race weekend pit stop practice is carried out on Thursday evening, Friday and Sunday morning at the racetrack.
- A typical F1 engine can run 1.2-1.4 km per 1 litre of fuel. That equates to 240-250 litres of fuel per 300 kilometres and around 180 kg in fuel weight
- FIA rules say that an F1 car must at all times have a minimum 600kg weight with driver, so introducing pit stops in the race strategy allows the car to run with less fuel on board, which is an optimum way to go quicker in the race gaining places and time advantage
- Places can be made or lost during pit stops
- Pit stops can be crucial to race position particularly if the weather changes during a race, or if the safety car is deployed.
- Until 1994 there was a total ban on refuelling during races.
- There is no rule making pit stops compulsory.

 - The 11 F1 teams are supplied with the same refuelling equipment by the French company Intertechnique. These machines are capable of delivering 12 litres of fuel in 1 second. The teams are allowed to repair them but not to modify them.
- Panasonic Toyota Racing uses Esso fuel for its engine...
- ...and the tyres are supplied by Michelin

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 September 2010 17:39

2011 Driver table

  1. 0 Sebastian Vettel 
  2. 0 Fernando Alonso
  3. 0 Mark Webber
  4. 0 Lewis Hamilton


2011 Constructors table

  1. 0 RBR-Renault
  2. 0 McLaren-Mercedes
  3. 0 Ferrari
  4. 0 Mercedes GP


Need to know

  1. Formula 1 lexicon
  2. Without Traction Control
  3. Logistics of Formula
  4. Rain - adapt to win