The excitement of Formula 1 was still very much in evidence this year, despite the interviews and vox pop given by drivers and team managers in face masks.
In this article, we look at the hows and whys of racing boxes, also known as pit stops, and discuss what makes these little pull-in places so vitally important to a driver's win.
What is it?
A pit stop or racing box is a place where those taking part in the race can get tyre changes and any other necessary parts fine tuned. The racing box itself will be adjacent to the pit stop area, which is right next to the main race track. The box will be honed and kitted out to maximize race potential, with all the latest equipment such as an HVLS industrial fan to keep machinery and menbers cool, a well kitted tool station, and of course spare tyres. It's been against the rules to refill Formula 1 cars at a pit stop since 2010 so these boxes no longer contain fuel.
Why is it called box or pit stop?
Pit stop is the usual name given by the general public to these garage style station points, but 'box' is used as a term in racing because it is easier to hear over an audio / radio system such as the F1 drivers use in their automobiles.
What happens at a box station?
A crew of close to 20 people will work in sync to remedy any issues with the car in the shortest time possible. This will be a practiced 'dance' taking mere seconds, but each second is worth its weight in gold in terms of racing against the clock. If parts need changing in addition to air pressure being adjusted in tyres or, for instance, if the angle of the front wing requires adjusting in order to combat understeer / oversteer, or if there’s an issue with the wheel nut that needs fixing, then the seconds soon add up. It's the team's job to minimize time in the box.
Who is in the box?
Each of the 20 or so people in the stop will have a specific job to do, and amongst the number are 3 mechanics, as well as 2 people to stabilize the car, and 2 to lift the vehicle up in case it needs work underneath. The mechanics work to operate the gun wheel, and one takes the tyre off whilst the other slots a new one in. Additionally, there are 2 team members at the front of the vehicle, and 2 at the rear, whilst 2 operate a lighting system designed to illuminate the car whilst in the stop.