Formula 1 Pit Rules
Every aspect and detail is crucial to success in Formula One, one of which has to be a perfect pit stop. It is within the pit lane when the lone competitor now finds themself surrounded by their hustling team. While the pit stops themselves might take an average of 2.5 seconds, it is an extremely complex and difficult environment to work in, demanding years of experience from each team member. Not only do the teams have to make calls on the fly to get their car in top shape, but they also have to pay attention to the FIA rules and regulations while in the pit lane. If any of these rules are violated, it will result in a penalty for the car. They only have seconds to get it right, or they’ll end up at the back of the pack. Read on to learn more about rules and regulations in the pit lane.
Pit Lane Structure
The pit lane runs parallel to the start/finish straight at every race. The front of the pit lane is known as the pit entry; it is designated from the first safety car line to the beginning of the pit lane. The pit exit is designated from the end of the pit lane to the second safety car line. There are two different lanes within the pit lane, the fast lane and the inner lane. The fast lane is closest to the pit wall and is used for the cars to drive through the entire pit area. The inner lane is closest to the team garage; this is where the cars stop to have work done. At each race, the FIA allocates one garage for each team.
Each competitor must come into the pit lane at least once in every race. This goes hand in hand with another rule that requires at least two different compounds of tyre to be used during the race. If a car doesn’t come into the pit lane throughout the entire race, it will be disqualified. FIA put this penalty in place because a driver not pitting would be the same as having a time advantage over everyone else. When entering the pit lane, each competitor cannot go above 80km/hr, or else it will result in a penalty. The penalty can vary depending on the severity of the competitor’s speed. This can range from a ‘drive through’ where the competitor is not allowed to stop and must drive all the way through the pit lane, or they can be given a time penalty of up to ten seconds. The speed a driver maintains through the pit lane can be crucial to their success in the race. While they do not want to exceed 80km/hr, they also want to go no less than 80km/hr because they will be slower than their competitors. Each car has a button on the steering wheel that limits its speed in the pit lane. The last rule each driver must pay attention to is not reversing in the pit lane. No car can be reversed using its own power in the pit lane. However, the team is allowed to physically push it backwards.
The Pit Crew
The pit crew is only allowed to come out onto the inner pit lane immediately before their driver arrives. Once they have finished their work, they must quickly leave the inner lane and go back into their garage. Each crew member must also be wearing a safety helmet that meets the regulations put forth by FIA. The pit crew is not allowed to use any powered device to lift the car, and they are not allowed to do any work on the car in the fast lane unless it is thirty minutes before the start of the formation lap. During this time, each car is lined up in the fast lane awaiting the start of the race. Under these circumstances, the crew is allowed to perform work on the car in the fast lane, such as changing tyres, changing the cockpit for the driver's comfort, fitting or removing cooling and heating devices, and starting or stopping the engine. Lastly, crew members are not allowed to paint any lines within the pit lane, and they are only allowed to enhance the grip of the pit lane by drying, sweeping, or laying tyre rubber down.