I’ll admit I’m a bit of a lurker. I like to hang around on Twitter, Facebook, and some forums to see what the fans are talking about. It really helps when searching for new topics to write about for TNI. Something I’ve seen a bit recently that I wanted to address has to do with comments about pit crews. When things don’t appear to go well during pit stops, some are quick to jump all over the guys doing the service. And while mistakes do happen, spots lost on pit road are not always the fault of the pit crew.
With the tires that Goodyear has been bringing to the track this year, we’ve seen crew chiefs playing a lot with tire strategies. At any point in the race, we’re seeing no tires, two tires, and four tire stops. This is the first place to look when you’re favorite driver makes big jumps up and down the leaderboard following a round of stops. If driver X takes four tires, and everyone else takes two, it’s impossible to hang on to any track position. No crew on pit road is good enough to beat teams out when they’re getting two more tires.
Another place to look when your driver loses ground on pit road is adjustments. Small changes like air pressure, track bar and wedge adjustments can be done without losing much time. But when bigger changes are needed, the crews will need more time. Doing things like pushing in or pulling out spring rubbers, pulling out or putting in front end shims, and putting clicks in shocks can result in lost track position.
The last way that a team can lose track position on pit road that I wanted to mention is damage repair. Not all damage that the cars suffer results in a caution, or is shown on television. Things like wrinkled fenders and damage to noses must be addressed, especially at the big tracks. And while often not major, repairs sometimes can’t be completed in 13 seconds.
So, while mistakes do occur and pit crews are sometimes to blame, it isn’t always our fault. We are often tasked to do things that just can’t be completed during the course of a normal pit stop. At that point, it’s more important that we get things right than it is that we have a quick stop.