Formula 1 is a team sport and there are many crew members who have extremely important jobs. When it comes to changing tires, working on the cars, or even when prepping the car for a session, an F1 car needs to be lifted into the air using jacks so the pit crew can work quickly and effectively.
F1 car jacks are fairly traditional jacks. F1 is one of the few branches of motorsport that still have a front and rear jackman that use a physical, external jack to lift the car into the air. The jacks are very important, but they’re very different from cars that we see in other motorsports.
F1 has some of the fastest pit stops in the world. It’s an incredible team effort that requires each team member to give maximum effort, and the jack men are two important pieces of the puzzle. Below, we’ll go over everything you need to know about F1 car jacks.
How Do F1 Cars Change Tires So Fast?
F1 cars change tires so fast because the pit crews are highly trained and very efficient. The average pit stop during a Formula 1 race is between two and three seconds. In some cases, the pit stops can be slightly longer if the team makes a mistake or if something goes wrong.
Only Changing Tires
The first reason F1 cars change tires so fast is because changing tires is the only thing a Formula One pit crew is allowed to do. Refueling has been banned from the sport, which takes away a big chunk of the total pit stop time. Refueling was banned at the end of the 2009 season as it became too dangerous following several incidents.
During the refueling era, the pit stops would average around seven or eight seconds, depending on how much fuel was put into the car. The crew changing the tires would have much less pressure on them as well, which often meant they made fewer mistakes than they do in the current era. However, modern pit crews are so highly trained that mistakes are still rare.
Many Crew Members
The second reason Formula 1 pit stops are so fast is because there are between 16 and 20 crew members serving a car during a pit stop. This allows the pit stop to be completed quickly, as each person simply needs to do their job to the best of their abilities.
You might think that 20 people is a bit much when it comes to changing four tires, but this is where the speed and efficiency of the team come in. There are two jack men (one at the front of the car and one at the rear) who lift the car up in the air. There are two team members on each side of the car that will hold it to stabilize it while it’s up on the jacks.
Each tire has three team members at a minimum. One team member operates the wheel gun. This crew member will unscrew the old tires and screw the new tires back on. Since this is their only job, they can do it quickly and easily (and the wheels are designed to be quick and easy to remove).
Another team member on each wheel will take the wheel off the car once the wheel gun has loosened it. Once the old tire is out of the way, another team member puts the new wheel in place and the person with the wheel gun can quickly fasten the new tire. This process takes between one and two seconds on average.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The third reason the pit stops are so fast in Formula 1 is because the crew members and the drivers practice their pit stops on a regular basis. Each team has a specialized pit stop crew and they practice pit stops at the factory during weekdays. Throughout the course of the race weekend, the team also practices their pit stops while the car is not out on track.
It’s not just the team that needs to nail the pit stop process, either. The drivers are under some serious pressure to hit their marks with perfect precision. It might look easy to drive into the pit box and stop at the perfect spot, but drivers can sometimes get it wrong. In the past, we’ve seen the front jackman being knocked over by a driver who missed their mark.
Built For Precision
It’s not just the team and the driver that makes Formula 1 pit stops so fast, smooth, and efficient. The cars and equipment are built in such a way that a change of tires can happen in a matter of seconds. This is what gives Formula 1 the edge over other forms of motorsport in the pit stops department.
The wheels of a Formula 1 car only have one wheel nut. The wheel gun is extremely powerful and can unscrew the wheel nut in less than a second.
In other cars, there are usually more wheel nuts used to keep the wheels in place. Some cars have four wheel nuts, and in some cases cars can have even more. Having just one wheel nut that can be removed and replaced in just a second is where Formula 1 gains the biggest advantage in terms of pit stop time.
What Is The Fastest-Ever Formula 1 Pit Stop?
Red Bull holds the record for the fastest pit stop in F1 history. During the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, the Red Bull Racing team changed Max Verstappen’s tires in just 1.82 seconds. This time has not been matched, and it’s unlikely that it will ever be beaten.
In recent years, the DHL fastest pit stop award has been introduced to help keep track of which team records the fastest pit stop throughout the course of the season. Red Bull has consistently been near the top of the table each season and has won it four times.
Do F1 Cars Have Built In Jacks?
Formula 1 cars do not have built in jacks, also known as pneumatic jacks. Other major motorsports have introduced built-in jacks that lift the car up automatically when in the pits. F1 cars still use traditional jacks, where the front and rear are lifted with external, manual jacks.
Weight plays a crucial role in Formula 1. Formula 1 cars are built to be as light as possible and not have any extra unnecessary components. This means F1 cars do not even have internal starter motors built into them. Pneumatic jacks are extremely heavy and seeing as they would only help the car in the pit lane, they are deemed unnecessary.
The second reason that Formula 1 cars do not have built in jacks is that jacks are too large and awkward to fit into an F1 car’s sleek design. Formula 1 cars are tightly packed, and there is not an inch of wasted space inside the car. This means there is also no room for pneumatic jacks to be added to the car without dramatically changing their design.
Could We See Built-In Jacks In The Future?
Formula 1 could very well make the switch to pneumatic built-in jacks in their cars in the future. With such a big focus on safety in the sport, not only for drivers but for crew members as well, it would not be surprising to see this element being implemented into the sport in the future.
Having jacks built into the car would mean that the front and rear jack men are no longer needed. As a result, two crew members would then be out of the way of each car, making the pit lane much safer and less crowded than before.
It would also remove the risk of the front jackman being hit by the car as it comes into the pits. We have seen this happen in Formula 1 several times, usually without injury, and if more serious incidents were to occur in this manner, there’s no doubt the sport would move towards built in jacks.
What Happens If The Jacks Fail In An F1 Pit Stop?
Even though the jacks used in F1 pit stops are made from high quality materials, they are still put under immense stress and are used many times throughout a Grand Prix weekend.
Team members are also under immense amounts of pressure during the race, and they can sometimes make a mistake and cause the car to drop off the jacks by not hooking the jack in correctly when the car stops.
As such, Formula 1 teams always have a backup jack ready and waiting right behind the primary jack man. If the jack fails or the jack man makes a mistake, they will quickly jump out of the way and the backup jack man will take over. Having this system in place means that teams won’t lose much time if something goes wrong trying to lift the car off the ground.
How Do Jacks Work In Other Motorsports?
The jacks in other motorsport are activated by sending air through a hose, which activates the front and rear jacks. When high-pressure air goes into the inlet, the jacks are activated, and the car is lifted. Once the crew are finished, they pull the hose out, and the jacks retract into the car.
The main reason the motorsport world has moved toward the “air jack” system is for safety. Only a small number of crew members are allowed to work on the car, and using this system removes two people, meaning more team members can work on changing tires and refueling the car. These jacks also get the car into the air much faster than traditional jacks.
The traditional, manual jacks used in Formula 1 are slower, but with the teams being so practiced at using them, they have become much quicker, and an air jack wouldn’t be much faster than an F1 jack man. The front jack man in Formula 1 is also responsible for checking that each of the four wheels has been securely fastened before dropping the car.
F1 uses traditional, manual jacks, even though much of the motorsport world has moved on to built-in air jacks. Formula 1 teams have around 20 crew members serving a car at any time, and so even while still using manual jacks, they can make the fastest pit stops of all motorsports.
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