F1 Raceweek: Williams explain pit-stop success


One year ago Williams were the most inconsistent team in the Formula One paddock when it came to pit stops. Now, they are the fastest in history. 

The Williams mechanics have turned pit-stop precision into a fine art in 2016, winning the award for fastest pit stop in all eight Grands Prix so far this season. 

Last time out in Baku at the European Grand Prix they made F1 history, with Felipe Massa coming in and out of the pit box in just 1.92 seconds - the fastest stop ever recorded.

But just how have they turned their fortunes around? 

"Hard work. A lot of hard work," says Williams' Head of Vehicle Performance Rob Smedley ahead of Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix. 

"A really good collaborative effort I would say from everybody, right across the groups, from everybody who is involved with the pit stop performance, identifying where the weak areas were, then looking at detail design.

"We haven't changed anything fundamentally but we have certainly been through a lot of subtle detail to get around the Achilles heel of last year and the year before."

Asked what their Achilles heel was, Smedley said: "It's fairly clear. It's not a secret. You can watch the television and know why we were so slow. We couldn't get the wheels off.

"We were taking one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half times longer than anybody else to get the wheels off in the stop. It's been a really, really good effort in particular by the suspension design group to design our way out of that."

Red Bull head into their home Grand Prix in Spielberg with both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen 100 per cent locked in for the next two years. 

"It's great to have the two of them signed," said Red Bull chief engineer Paul Monaghan. "I think the way Daniel has been driving this year is amazing. Obviously Max has arrived and caused quite a stir and he's clearly going to be one to watch.

"In terms of setting the design of the car, clearly it means we know what we're packaging around. We've got them both in this year's car, so looking forward to 2017 it's one less challenge to deal with.

"In terms of their feedback, they are both very good, so it's not as if we lack anything in terms of driver feedback. They are both articulate, they're both knowledgeable and their feedback is valid and relevant. It's not as if they comment on subsets that have little effect on the car.

"We know that we have two that are good at it. It's settling as opposed to facing an unknown, I'll take that every day."

While Red Bull are hopeful of a podium in Austria, McLaren will be targeting a points finish around the Red Bull Ring. The manufacturer have endured a tough time since switching to Honda power units in 2015, but there is plenty of optimism regarding some progress in the coming weeks. 

"We are hopeful that we can introduce some of the upgrades in a couple of races. I have already confirmed we see some good elements, so as soon as we are ready we will introduce it," said Honda F1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa.