A remarkable Chinese Grand Prix last weekend saw many dramatic plot lines as Daniel Ricciardo powered his Red Bull to victory and now Mercedes claim it was also the scene of the quickest pit stop in F1 history.
Last year, pit stops became a much more pedestrian affair as the move to bigger tyres and wheels slowed the process considerably, however teams seem to have negated these changes and trips to the pits are now back to 2016 speeds.
In Shanghai, Valtteri Bottas in the Mercedes came in on lap 19 and succesfully took the race lead as he jumped ahead of Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel who pitted a lap later. The DHL fastest pitstop award officially went to the Finnish driver for a time of 2.15 seconds but Mercedes claim that the stop in fact comfortably broke the two-second barrier.
"We were 3.3s behind Sebastian when we came into the pit lane in order to execute the undercut," said chief strategist James Vowles in a Mercedes video.
"A few things came towards us perfectly all together at the same time."The first was that our pitstop was incredible. In this new era we did a 1.83s time, based on our traffic light system. That's very quick, since Austin 2016 with the smaller wheels and tyres, we haven't done times around that.
"And Sebastian's stop was round about 0.9s slower, if you measure across the pitlane time, and the pit stop was around 0.7s of that. So already straight away you've eaten into his margin."
Vowles also paid tribute to the role of the driver in fully maximising the success of the remarkable pit stop.
He continued: "Valtteri's out-lap was extraordinary. We have a number of messages we gave to Valtteri, to make sure he knew what he needed to do, and it was like a qualifying lap, he executed it perfectly, he didn't make any mistakes.
"That then contributed to a couple of seconds gained.
"The final element is on the in-lap you can see Sebastian really struggling on those old soft tyres. They were still in a good state, they weren't completely gone, but you can see a few tenths' loss for them on the way in as well.
"All of that came together beautifully to allow Valtteri to come out around 0.7s ahead of Sebastian. It was an undercut, it was a pitstop coming together at the same time, and it was a fantastic out-lap from Valtteri."
You can watch the Bottas pitstop in the video below, which despite what Mercedes claim, was timed at 2.15 seconds. Nevertheless, don't blink and you or might miss it!
The official record for the fastest pit stop in F1 history belongs the Williams Team who completed a pit stop for Felipe Massa in 1.92 seconds in 2016.
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