In most motorsports series, the drivers tend to get the majority of the credit, while the pit crew can sometimes function to the average fan like an NFL punter: you don’t notice them until they do something wrong. Formula One recognizes pit crew members as the unsung heroes in the sport, and since 2015, they have honored teams annually with the DHL Fastest Pit Stop Award.
Not counting the time it takes for an F1 car to pull in and out of pit lane, an average F1 pit stop time is usually between 2 to 2.5 seconds. In a pit stop, mere milliseconds could mean the difference between a victory and a photo-finish loss.
Back in 2019 at the Brazilian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen’s Red Bull Racing team put those extra milliseconds to good use, by clocking in a 1.82-second pit stop time. This led to a Max Verstappen victory, a world record for the quickest Formula 1 pit stop, and an eventual DHL Fastest Pit Stop award for Red Bull Racing.
WATCH: Red Bull Racing Sets Fastest Pit Stop in F1 History
On lap 21 of the race, Verstappen came into the pits and the Red Bull crew changed all four tires in a mere 1.82 seconds. The 24-year-old Verstappen, who has 23 F1 victories and is the 2021 Formula One World Champion, ended up winning the Brazilian GP on his way to a third-place showing in the 2019 standings.
The Red Bull pit crew broke their own record that day in Brazil, as they put up their previous best time, 1.88 seconds, at the German Grand Prix earlier that year.
The Red Bull team has been the GOAT of pit stops in the modern F1 era. In 2020, they recorded the fastest pit stop time in 15 out the 17 races that season. The team has won the DHL Fastest Pit Stop Award, which has been determined by a points system since 2017, every year from 2018 to 2021.
In the first year of the points system, Mercedes, which fielded Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas at the time, won the DHL Award. Williams won the award in 2016, while Ferrari was the inaugural winner.
If you couldn’t tell by now, Formula One is very much a team sport. The driver may get the glory if they win a championship, but the pit crew is there to make sure that the racer raking in the multi-million-dollar paycheck each race is competing to the best of their abilities.