How quickly can you change a tire? The pit crew for Infiniti Red Bull Racing can do it in 2.05 seconds. Actually, they can change four tires in 2.05 seconds, and they did just that at the Grand Prix of Malaysia two weeks ago, setting a new world record for the quickest pitstop in the process.
There must've been something in the water over there in Malaysia, as the old pitstop record of 2.31 seconds set by McLaren in Germany last year fell six times during the course of the race. Five of those record-beating pitstops were performed by Infiniti Red Bull Racing, one for Sebastian Vettel on his first stop, which took 2.13 seconds, and four for fellow driver Mark Webber, who brought his car in on Lap 19 for what would be the quickest pitstop of the day and the new world record. Three other Webber pitstops were under the old record's time, and even team McLaren apparently beat its old record in Malaysia with a best time of 2.28 seconds.
What does a 2.05-second pitstop look like? Scroll down to watch these expert car handlers reshoe an entire car in less time than it takes you to find a tire iron. We've also included a video of the previous record-setting pitstop by McLaren that stood for about a year.
INFINITI RED BULL RACING SETS NEW PITSTOP WORLD RECORD
MILTON KEYES, UK – With no shortage of talking points in Malaysia, lots of stuff that would usually make headlines passed by unnoticed. For instance, despite the slippery surface and the concentration-sapping heat in Malaysia, we broke the record for the fastest ever pitstop. In fact, having reviewed the data, we're pretty sure we beat the previous mark on five separate occasions during the race.
McLaren have held the record since last year's German Grand Prix, where they changed four wheels for Jenson Button in 2.31s. We went under that in Malaysia with Seb's first stop being 2.13s. Mark's first stop, two laps later was also 2.13s. The crew then lowered the new benchmark to 2.05s when Mark came in again, and his two subsequent stops were 2.21s and 2.26s.
These times are all taken from the car data, which each team uses to record the stationary times. TV do their own rough-and-ready calculations, and sometimes we take timings off video as well, though for real precision the common practice in the pitlane is to use the car's own datalog. Whichever metric you prefer, those are all pretty quick. It's basically a blink-and-you'll-miss-it blur of tires, wheel-guns and improbably balletic mechanics.
What you won't hear, however, is anyone using the word "perfect." There's always a quicker stop out there, and it's possible this season we'll see the magical two-second barrier breached at some point. However, rather than chasing individual times, improving consistency is always the thing coveted by the crew; breaking records is merely the consequence of doing that well.
Car data recorded the following stationary pit stop times (Malaysian Grand Prix 2013):
Sebastian Vettel Stop 1 (Lap 5): 2.13 seconds
Mark Webber Stop 1 (Lap 7): 2.13 seconds
Mark Webber Stop 2 (Lap 19): 2.05 seconds
Mark Webber Stop 3 (Lap 31): 2.21 seconds
Mark Webber Stop 4 (Lap 43): 2.26 seconds