F1 Pitlane Hardware

In the two second that is a good F1 pitstop, the hardware and detail gets missed behind the twenty or so mechanics working on the car.



The pitlane area is marked accurately with paint, this provides a datum for the accuracy of the car stop to be measured against.  Marking denote the pit boxes centreline, where each wheel needs to stop and within each wheel area a vernier scale of +-30cm is marked out.  A stop accuracy of 10cm is a lot for a fast pitstop.

Above the pit box is the pit gangtry, this houses the stop lights, CCTV cameras, air lines and trigger wiring for the wheel guns.  The wheel guns operate on compressed air held in the cylinders near the pit garage.  Helium gas used to be used, as it made the wheel guns quicker, but this is now banned.



The rear Jack design varies between teams, but all are effectively a long handle, with the jack on castors, that then drops the car when pulling on a lever.


Each team customises its own wheel guns.  Paoli are a key supplier for many teams, although I beleive McLaren develop their own.  Each corner fo the car gets two wheel guns, with the second there in case the first one fails.  The gun is quickly reversible, with a robust pneumatic button, that is often operated by hitting the gun on the mechanics chest or a firm punch with the palm of the hand.  Guns will have bespoke grips, with abrasive paper or grippy silicone.



We’ve covered the tech of F1’s swivelling jacks some time ago (http://scarbsf1.com/blog1/2012/07/05/f1-jack-technology/).  The technology has been refined since then, but the concept of a jack that lifts the car, then allows the mechanic to swivel the handle sideways to clear the car’s path, then drop the car, remains the same.

Now two levers are used, the jack starts as a stiff solid device.  Once the car’s lifted, the first lever is pulled, this allows the handle and castors to swivel sideways ready for removing from the car.  Once the wheels are fitted, the second lever is pulled and this releases the jack and the car drops.  Teams are using pneumatic or hydraulic release mechanisms, to speed up and smooth the jack’s release, rather than rely solely on the mechanics strength to release a heavily loaded jack mechanism.



The whole stop process is under the control of one mechanic, who runs the traffic light system.  This is red as the car arrives at the stop, each wheel gun and jack has a button to signal they have finished their work.  Each of these inputs is shown to the mechanic, who will ensure the pit exit is clear and then press the trigger to set the lights to green.



Each step of the stop is watched by several cameras, often GoPro style units mounted above the pit gangtry.  Teams review this footage to improve their stops.  Red Bull use lasers to detect the wheel position, which also gives the mechanic a reference point to hold his hand out to show the driver where to stop.


Spares will be kept in the pitlane, as well as spare wheel nuts and tools to remove awkward to remove nut, there will also be spare wings, set up for each driver ready to fit, prefitted with the tool to release the quarter turn cam fastener that retains the nose on the car.



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