Formula 1 pit stops are an exhilarating part of any Grand Prix and give the pit crews an opportunity to win their driver valuable time. When you witness the utter fluidity of a perfect pit stop, it comes as no surprise to discover each pit stop is choreographed to perfection, rehearsed thousands of times by a crew of more than 20 people.
Typically, it takes pit crews around 3–3.5 seconds to replace all 4 tires on the car, yet the fastest pit stops are executed in under 2 seconds. When drivers are struggling to close down the gap with fractions of a second in each sector, the potential to gain a second or more with a perfect pit stop is the reason why F1 teams place the utmost importance on forming a strong, skilled pit crew.
F1 pit crew members enjoy an exciting, fast-paced lifestyle, that sees them travel the world with their teams, visiting the most breath-taking circuits and destinations the world has to offer; that’s not to say the role of the pit crew isn’t a tough one.
To become an F1 pit crew member, you’ll need a strong knowledge of automotive mechanics, an absolute dedication to learning and perfecting the craft, and the willingness to dedicate nearly every day to be the very best.
The roles of the Pit crew
An F1 team’s pit crew consists of 20 or more skilled people. When the car stops in the pit box, the role of the front, side, and rear jack operators is to raise the car from the ground so that it can be worked on easily.
A Tire gunner for each corner of the car waits in position, ready to loosen and tighten the wheel nut with rapid precision. There is a tire-on and tire-off person for each corner of the car, perform the tire change in seconds.
If a driver reports handling issues, such as understeer, incremental adjustments can be made to the angle of the front wing flaps. Using an electric hand tool, two wing technicians work together to swiftly apply the change.
The role of the lollipop person is to display the message to the driver indicating when brakes should be applied, and when to engage the gear. When all remaining members of the pit crew have completed their tasks, the l0llipop person raises the pole from the nose of the car, signaling the driver to leave the pit box.
Perfecting the pit stop
F1 pit crews practice their pit stop sequence more than 3,000 times over the duration of a year, tweaking the process in order to service the car as rapidly, and precisely as possible. The choreography of a pit stop is closely watched by the team, with cameras capturing every possible angle in crystal clear detail so that the process and how each person moves and operates can be analyzed in order to find a faster approach.
Pit crew members dedicate every single day to some form of crew training, whether it is training in the gym to increase core strength and stamina, or specific exercises to increase flexibility and reduce fatigue, maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle are a fundamental part of being an effective pit crew member.
Requirements for Pit crew
There are few specific requirements to become a member of an F1 pit crew, although the competition is rampant to work for a team in the fastest motorsport in the world. Expect to be up against mechanics and crew members with years’ experience wrenching on cars in lower formulas, before reaching Formula 1.
Physical fitness, great stamina, and excellent communication skills will prove invaluable for hopeful candidates looking to start the journey to becoming a pit crew member. Training schools, programs, and classes exist, depending on where you live, to help aspiring pit crew members learn and develop the essential skills they need to thrive in the fast-paced environment of Formula 1.
Many pit crew members start their journey to working in F1 by building their skills in other classes of motorsport and completing classes or schools to demonstrate the understanding that teams look for.
Experience working with a range of tools and around a variety of race cars will help form an understanding of race car anatomy and allow you to work on performing great pit stops from early on in your career.
Find your specialism
With each pit crew member specializing in performing a specific operation on the car, pit crews consist of people of all shapes and sizes, strengths, and builds. Exploring the different roles within a pit crew can help you discover which roles suit your skillset and physical capabilities best.
Tire change members and jack operators need to have a strong back, arms, and core to change the tires quickly and efficiently, whereas the tire gunner needs complete precision when loosening or tightening the wheel lug nut. Not only do crew members have to be strong and flexible, but they also need to remain aware of everything that is going on to prevent any mistakes or misunderstandings that could lose critical time during a pit stop.
Start off small
Starting off with mechanic and pit crew programs is a highly-recommended way to become comfortable working in an adrenaline-fueled environment. Also, placing a focus on single-seater racing is a fantastic direction to head in if you have hopes of reaching the dizzying heights of F1 someday.
Once you have a decent level of skills and experience working as a mechanic or a member of the pit crew for a recognized motorsport team, you can begin your search for pit crew training programs for F1 teams.
For fans of Formula 1 that desire a fun, fulfilling career as a pit crew member for a Formula 1 team, taking the first steps towards making it happen can be exciting, and nerve-racking at the same time.
With a dedication to achieving optimal physical fitness, as well as gaining the crucial skills and knowledge that will help you excel as a member of the pit crew, all that remains is to search for programs, classes, or mentors in your area.
Each team will specify its own requirements, and may require you to sit and pass a course or exam. Sign-up and register your interest in becoming a pit crew member to find out how to get started.
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