It’s billed as the Lesser Race of the new Formula One season – and it doesn’t even take place on the track.
It’s the race in the pit lanes to change four tyres faster than you can say FIA 2010 Formula One World Championship!
Every second counts for the mechanics as they prepare for the first race of the season in Bahrain this Sunday.
Red Bull are already boasting they can do the job in a staggering 1.8 seconds!
Up until now there was less pressure on the tyre men to make the changes as refuelling could take seven or eight seconds.
But with the introduction of the re-fueling ban during the race the soul reason for the two compulsory pitstops is to have the tyres changed.
So this year teams are under more pressure than ever before to hone their ability to perform a pit stop in the quickest possible time.
Much like for the drivers and aerodynamicists, shaving every last fraction of a second from the time is crucial for F1’s pit crews, to the extent that even the slightest of delays during a pit stop could decide the outcome of a race.
“We have done sub-two second stops. They are absolutely lightning,” said team principle Christian Horner. “The guys have trained like hell over the winter. They have all lost weight and got fitter in the process.”
Red Bull have had their pit crews doing static practice stops at their base since November, but they admit that in a real race environment their 1.8 second pitstops will be around a second slower than times seen at the factory, especially given the possibility of delays in communication between the crew.
Other teams have also been concentrating on the tyre changing issue and some have taken more radical approaches.
Ferrari have introduced a wheel nut which features ‘automatic triggering of its fastener’, and have brought back an updated version of their ‘traffic light’ system that they ditched after 2008, in an attempt to reduce the delay in human reaction times.
Meanwhile Mercedes have introduced a similar system in place of the traditional ‘lolly pop’ method, whilst Renault will bring specially adapted wheel nuts and a new front jack with a quick-release mechanism.
Alex Kapadia, Operations Team