Simanaitis Says

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PIT STOPS in modern Formula 1 are marvelously orchestrated affairs. Four tires are changed, maybe aerodynamic devices are adjusted, and the car is gone, all in a mere 2 seconds from when it comes to a stop in its pit box. Depending on the layout of a circuit’s pit lane entrance and exit, a pit stop involves a loss of perhaps 20–25 seconds overall.

In the good old days, this much time was often taken in team histrionics.

Here, in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow, are pit stop tidbits, current, historical, and, indeed, hysterical.

Mercedes-AMG’s Faux Stops. Last season, the top-running Mercedes-AMG team was criticized for using fake pit stops as part of its race strategy.

As described at the parc fermé, September 4, 2018, the Mercedes team “chose to loiter around in the pit box” during the Italian Grand Prix, in contraindication of the regulation “Team personnel are only allowed in the pit lane immediately before they are required to work on a car and must withdraw as soon as the work is completed.”

A Mercedes-AMG pit stop. Image by kymillman/f1 from parc fermé.

Mercedes-AMG claimed it was just countering whatever Ferrari driver Kim Raikkonen did and therefore it had to have its pit crew ready to respond. “It wasn’t a phantom stop,” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was quoted as saying.

On the other hand, when Rakkonen did come in, his stop was hampered in entering his pit box by having to maneuver around the Mercedes crew.

There was finger-pointing, and likely worse gesturing, on both sides.

Shenanigans in 2015. What’s more, the parc fermé recalled an incident in 2015’s British Grand Prix: “Mercedes were battling Williams F1. At that time, Toto Wolff admitted they’d try to trigger Williams into a stop by using a fake stop themselves.”

Fédération International de l’Automobile officials responded in 2015 with apparent zero tolerance for any such future skullduggery. But, as the parc fermé noted, “Still, it is difficult to know when a team simply changed its mind and for that, I would imagine that a lot of forensic radio and strategy work would have to be done to prove intent.”

This all sounds legalistic. In marked contrast, tomorrow in Part 2 we’ll talk about friends in motor sports using wile as well as will. And even some hysterics.

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2019

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