What can you do in less than 2 seconds? How about change all four wheels on Mark Webber’s Red Bull Racing car? Red Bull said they have now claimed the Formula One world record by changing Webber’s wheels/tires in 1.923 seconds during the United States Grand Prix in Austin this weekend. The team held the previous record of 2.05 seconds in the Malaysian Grand Prix this year.
Time is of the essence in a sport that is measured in the one thousandth of a second and to change all four wheels in under 2 seconds is a terrific feat by anyone’s measure. Teams practice pitstops regularly and in Austin you could catch some of those practice sessions during the pit walk on Thursday.
The consequence of speed is an unsecured wheel and Williams F1 have been penalized twice for having a loose wheel come off the car on track due to a wheel nut that wasn’t fastened securely. When things are rushed, the risk is always increased. To combat that, the governing body of Formula 1, the FIA, have designed a new system that is supposed to do a better job of retaining the wheel nut.
For Red Bull, they are always looking for performance gains and that includes the pit crew. As the Mirror’s Alex Richard points out, the team felt the 2-second time barrier was vulnerable after they recorded the 2.05 second stop saying at the time:
“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,” the teams said after Malaysia.
“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.”
Now the team say that Webber’s car was stationary for 1.923 seconds during his stop which breaks a Formula One record.
The USGP was a record breaking day for Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel who took his eighth consecutive win breaking Michael Schumacher’s record. The race was very encouraging from the fan perspective as well with some of the first-year niggles ironed out and an attendance of 250,000 people over the three-day weekend.
While some believe Formula 1 is lost on Americans, 250,000 eclipses many of the high-profile AsiaPac races and is on par with the British Grand Prix with their 120,000 attendance on race day and 294,000 over the three day event. If you were looking down your nose at America’s inability to support F1, you may want to think again. The championship was already sewn up before F1 came to the USGP and yet 250,000 still showed up to support the Circuit of the Americas and the race.
The United kingdom is the spiritual home of F1 and as an American, I would never claim to be on par with the terrific fans of the UK and their ability to support the series but I can say that we are there or thereabouts and that’s a reason to be proud of the USGP and American fan base.