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Formula One is fast-paced and adrenaline-fueled – both for the drivers and fans of this motorsport. However, drivers cannot win their races alone and need the help of a dedicated pit crew supporting them. These pit crew members – of which there are typically twenty per team – must be at the top of their game during these races. If that sounds exhilarating to you, then maybe a career as an F1 pit crew member is for you!
Two of the most crucial factors when going into any career is education and experience. To become a Formula One pit crew member, you’ll need to have a solid foundation of automotive knowledge and will need to complete a pit crew training course. Getting involved in local racing and getting the right experience to supplement your education is crucial.
If you’re interested in a career as a Formula One pit crew member, then this article is for you. We’ll look at the pit crew, what exactly the different members do in their roles, and how you can become one of them!
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What Do Formula One Pit Crew Members Do?
When most people think about Formula One, they typically tend to think about the drivers. However, these drivers wouldn’t be able to win the Grand Prix without some help from their dedicated pit crew members. These pit crew members play a vital role and ensure that these Formula One drivers can get back on track, so to speak, as quickly as possible.
Those familiar with Formula One will be aware that drivers have not been allowed to refuel mid-race since 2010. In Formula One races, each car begins the race with a full fuel load to get them through the race. This regulation was implemented to save on certain costs and to increase the safety of those involved, from drivers to pit crew members.
Due to this change in F1 regulations, the roles performed by the pit crew have slightly shifted during the last decade to accommodate this new refueling guideline. A pit crew member no longer needs to refuel a driver’s tank during a race – so, what does the pit crew now do during a 2021 F1 race?
An overall summary of each pit crew’s responsibilities is to service the driver’s vehicle as quickly as possible. Due to the time constraints, multiple members are needed in each pit crew to carry out these services. One of their most common roles is changing tires during a match so that the driver can get back on track to win, literally and figuratively.
While changing tires might not sound like the most glamorous job in the world, the time frames in which these services are performed will shock and astound many people. In 2019, Red Bull beat their own pit stop record, where a pitstop performed during the 21st lap of a total of 71 clocked in at a startling 1.82 seconds. Check the awesome pit stop below.
This beat Red Bull’s previous record of a 1.88-second pitstop – and that was also made during the 2019 season. In fact, Red Bull broke the world record for the fastest Formula One pitstop three times during that season. While Formula One drivers get much of the glory, this record is a testament to the pit crew members that play an important role in the F1 team.
While pit crew members do need to work quickly as part of these teams, there is still a large focus on the quality of these services. After all, the quality of the service – as well as the time the pit stop takes, of course – can play a crucial role in determining the outcome of the race for the relevant F1 driver.
Ultimately, the time a pit stop takes depends on what needs to be serviced or changed in order for the driver to successfully continue with the race. Due to these variables, a pit stop could last anywhere between two and seven seconds, often longer. Over time, however, these pits stop processes, and the time they take has been refined.
Variables that can increase the time a pit stop takes could be issues with a wheel nut or perhaps a front wide-angle that needs to be adjusted to correct issues related to over or understeering. If dirt and debris have collected in certain parts of the racer’s vehicle, this will need to be cleaned, as well. Many factors such as this can increase the time a pit stop takes.
At the end of the day, the pit crew needs to be made up of dedicated and trained individuals who can work as part of a team in the fast-paced Formula One world and support their drivers as efficiently as possible to get them over the finish line. Keep reading as we take a closer look at the F1 pit crew members and their various roles!
Pit Crew Overview
Earlier in this article, we looked at the important role that pit crew members play in Formula One races. While the drivers in these races often get much of the glory from the public, their successes would not be possible without a dedicated pit crew servicing their vehicle during pitstops.
There are many specialized roles that form the completed pit crew, which usually has twenty members in total. Over time, this number has fluctuated slightly as certain Formula 1 regulations have changed. For example, since 2010, there has been no need for pit crew members to refuel vehicles during races following regulation changes.
One thing that hasn’t changed is how the pit crew is managed overall. The team is led by a Crew Chief, who is the leader of the pit crew and the highest-paid member of the Formula One pit crew. The Crew Chief is responsible for choosing the team members that form part of their F1 pit crew. Let’s take a look at those team members that the Crew Chief manages.
One member of the pit crew will be responsible for refueling vehicles. However, due to regulation changes, this is no longer done during races. Before 2010, when the changes to F1 races came into effect, this crew member had to be able to refuel vehicles at estimated rates of 12 liters of fuel per second.
Tire changes are one of the most important parts of Formula One pitstops. Every pit crew has four crew members responsible for changing tires during a race. To assist these four crew members, there’s an additional team comprised of eight tire carriers.
While the four tire changers are predominantly responsible for handling the tire changes on these vehicles during a race, they are assisted by the tire carriers while uninstalling the used tires and then installing the new tires.
Two crew members will be jack men, who are responsible for using a lever to lift the car and then eventually level the car down so that the driver may resume their race. There are also two crew members who are stabilizers and are responsible for stabilizing the car from the right and left sides, as well as the center.
Wing men on the crew team are responsible for adjusting the front wing angles of the racer’s vehicle. Finally, to complete the pit crew, there’s a member who is responsible for extinguishing any fires that break out. Together, all these above-discussed roles form a complete Formula One pit crew.
How Do They All Work Together?
While all of these roles are crucial to get the driver safely and successfully over the finish line, not all of the crew members can work at once. After all, there are up to twenty members typically, and the pit stop durations are generally under ten seconds.
A typical Formula One vehicle will take an estimated ten seconds to enter the pit lane and approach the garage. The driver then ensures the car is in neutral and that they keep their foot on the brake. The pit crew can then begin servicing the vehicle.
During the first second, air guns are used to unfasten the vehicle’s wheel nuts. While this happens, the jack men raise the car off the ground with their jacks from the front and back of the vehicle.
By the 2.5 second mark, the four wheels will be off the car, and the crew will begin replacing these wheels with new ones. Another pit crew member will ensure the driver’s helmet visor is clean. By the 3.5 second mark, the four new wheels will be on the vehicle. The wheel nuts will then be tightened.
When this is done, a crew member will raise their hand to confirm that everything is okay. At this point, the wheels have been successfully replaced, and the car is lowered again by the jack men. This is typically done by the time 5 seconds have passed. Of course, this timeframe could fluctuate depending on the services required, as discussed earlier.
Due to the tight time constraints involved with pit stops, Formula One regulates the number of pit crew members that are allowed to work on a vehicle at a time during a pitstop. Currently, only five crew members are allowed to jump over the wall at any given time during a pit stop to work on the car. These members are chosen by the Crew Chief member.
Check out the below video explaining in detail how a formula 1 pit stop works.
If it’s your dream to become a Crew Chief member of a pit crew one day – or to work in any of the other roles that comprise a pit crew – then you should keep reading. Next, we’re going to be looking at how you can become a member of a Formula One pit crew.
How Do You Become an F1 Pit Crew Member?
Now that we’ve looked at the roles of the pit crew – both as a team and the individual roles that comprise it – it’s time to look at how you can become a Formula One pit crew member. From the knowledge you’ll need to gain to the required training and beyond, we’ll break down what you need to know if you’re considering this career path.
What skills do you need to be a pit crew member?
Those who want to be a part of the Formula One pit crew need to be fast and agile while still remaining careful and consistent in order to excel at this career path. Without these qualities, the pit crew will be unnecessarily delayed, which could cause the driver to lose their race.
As a pit crew member, you’re rooting for your driver and you want to deliver your best performance so that they may excel. After all, pit crew members receive race-winning bonuses on top of their annual salaries. This amount ranges between $250 and $5000, which goes to the Crew Chief.
Roles and Responsibilities
However, if you want to be a part of a Formula One pit crew, there’s one crucial thing you need to understand. Unfortunately, you cannot simply be an F1 tire changer and work during races. If you think about how quick pitstops are – mere seconds – it makes sense that there’s more to the roles of the pit crew members.
Members of the pit crew have full-time jobs as part of their racing team. Many of these members are mechanics, truck drivers, engine fitters, and more. The only truly ‘fixed’ role on the pit crew team is that of the Crew Chief. Due to this, you won’t simply find a job advertisement to be an F1 pit crew member.
If you’re looking to get involved in a Formula One pit crew, you’ll need to start off by getting involved in the race team with a regular day job, such as a mechanic. Once you’ve done this, you’ll have the opportunity to get involved in pit crew duties. So, how do you become a part of the racing team?
Getting The Right Education
The first step towards a career as an F1 crew member is getting the right education to create a solid foundation upon which you can build your career. Every opportunity you have to improve your automotive knowledge and skills, even outside of traditional studies, should be taken!
This includes finding local racetracks and the events hosted there. Seeing how things work behind the scenes can help you get ahead in this industry. Even partaking in racing can be advantageous as it will allow you to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the industry you want to join.
In terms of studying, you’ll need to enroll in a pit crew training program. There are many institutions that offer a hands-on education that will prepare you for a fulfilling career. A focus on STEM subjects will serve you well in this career field.
Getting The Rght Experience
Work experience and the right education will always be an advantage! However, experience and education aren’t the only factors you need to consider for this career path. This is a very physical job, so you’ll also need to ensure you have the strength and endurance to work twelve-to-fifteen-hour work shifts.
At the end of the day, like many other career paths, you may need to start close to the bottom and work your way up in the industry towards a major team. You can do this while still keeping your eyes on your dream of being a part of a Formula One pit crew.
As you gain more experience and excel in this industry, you’ll be able to refine and master your skills. You’ll likely start off working in smaller touring series and, as you develop your skill set, work your way towards larger circuits. As you do this, you’ll have the opportunity to network with other industry professionals and make connections that will serve you well in the world of motorsport.
At the end of the day, the motorsport industry is a diverse one. There are many opportunities available in this industry for those who are interested in this fast-paced and adrenaline-fueled career path. With the right training, experience, and connections, you have the potential to go far in the motorsport industry and work your way towards your dream of being a Formula One pit crew member.
Check out the below video of Guy Martin’s basic training on becoming an F1 pit crew member.
It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to become a Formula One pit crew member. After all, these pit crews are breaking their own pitstop records, with some of them being completed in less than two seconds. However, working as part of the pit crew is only part of the duties of these crew members in their day-to-day jobs. Most of these crew members work for Formula One as mechanics, engine fitters, and more.
If you’re interested in working as part of an F1 pit crew, you’ll need to gain the right education and experience. From there, you’ll work your way through bigger circuits towards your dream of working in the fast-paced world of Formula One.