Formula 1 drivers think it would be wrong to rid the sport of the spectacle of fast pit stops amid the current safety clampdown.
Both the FIA and FOM have introduced changes to pitlane protocol in the wake of a cameraman getting hit by a loose wheel from Mark Webber’s car at the German Grand Prix. As well as teams now facing grid penalties if cars are released with loose wheels, there has been a change in the pitlane speed limit and restrictions on media access.
Ideas have also been put forward about ways of slowing down the pit stops to stop mechanics needing to rush matters. But drivers are not convinced that going that far is necessary, especially because part of F1’s attraction is the speed with which wheels are changed.
“When they turn a car around quickly it is a great ad for the sport,” Webber said. “It is another part of our operation as an industry to show how performance orientated we are, although that stuff doesn’t really go into road car stuff or your local auto parts store.
“It’s a nice message to show how much time we focus on it. It’s impressive and a lot of people talk about it when they walk past the garage and they see an F1 car arriving and disappearing in two or three seconds.”
Jenson Button thinks a simple solution to the debate over whether or not pit stops are too quick is to bring back refueling.
“It is an exciting part of the sport and motor racing is dangerous, as we all know,” explained the McLaren driver. “They didn’t used to have speed limits in the pitlane and now they have speed limits, so that is a good step forward.
“Obviously the pit stops have got very, very fast and there have been a few incidents of tires coming off, which is horrendous. But the reason they are so fast now is because we don’t have refueling. We have taken away a danger, refueling, and got faster pit stops, so I think bring back refueling. I am sure it was a lot more fun.”
Fernando Alonso thinks that ultimately any changes that can improve safety around pit stops has to be a positive for everyone.
“We all try to find the limit in pit stops,” he said. “If they find a solution to increase the pit stop time to improve safety, and it is the same for all the teams, I think no one will disagree.”