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Members of the pit crew of the Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber practice their pit stops
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How the pursuit of marginal F1 gains caused Sauber's pitstop stumbles

A slew of slow pitstops for Sauber can’t be explained as a statistical cluster of ‘finger trouble’. Rather it’s a consequence, says STUART CODLING, of pushing the limits in Formula 1’s constant pursuit of marginal gains…

One crumb of comfort Valtteri Bottas can identify as he contemplates an early season blighted by pitstop issues – none of them will be as bad as his worst stop ever, which remains a record in Formula 1. At the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix, when Bottas was driving for Mercedes, the pit crew was unable to remove his right-front wheel… so it remained in place for another 43 hours, finally parted from the chassis in a surgical procedure back at the factory.

To consistently achieve fast stops, where the car is stationary for around two seconds, teams not only practice the procedure itself regularly, they develop bespoke technologies to expedite the process. While ultra-fast stops are desirable – and rewarded with a nice-to-have but somewhat pointless award sponsored by DHL – most team managers will tell you they prefer to target a consistently quick average rather than chasing peaks, which is when mistakes can creep in.

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