Longest Pitstop: When Merc Crew Botched-Up Valt’s Monaco Outing

The pitstop crew in F1 is an important part of an F1 team because they are responsible for keeping the car fit during the races. However, at times, errors made by them cost the drivers crucial winning points

From changing the tyres to repairing the cars within seconds, a pitstop crew is one of the most crucial elements of an F1 team. They are responsible for keeping the car fit during the races and therefore, their hard work never goes unnoticed. However, at times, they make errors because of which, drivers lose crucial winning points. A few months back, a minor error by the pitstop crew of Mercedes-AMG botched up Valtteri Bottas’s Monaco race. However, it also led to the formation of an embarrassing and unwanted record; the longest pitstop in Formula One history. 

It was a bright sunny day at the Monaco Grand Prix and Merc’s Valtteri Bottas was in a comfortable position holding number two spot. On lap 30, the Mercedes-AMG crew called Bottas and asked him to pit his car. Bottas did so, but he did not know that he will not rejoin the race again; courtesy of the pitstop crew. Three of his tyres were changed successfully but the fourth (front-right) one never came out. The pit crew member used the pneumatic wheel gun in the wrong manner because of which, the nut got machined to the axle and the tyre never came out. Sadly, because of the error, Bottas had to retire from the race. 

After the race, the Technical Director of Mercedes, James Allison, explained, “We eventually didn’t get the wheel off, it is sat in our garage with the wheel still on it. It will have to be ground off, get a Dremel [tool] out and painfully slice through the remnants of the wheel nut. We will do that back at the factory. If we don’t quite get the pitstop gun cleanly on the nut, then it can chip away at the driving faces of the nut. We call it machining the nut. It is a bit like when you take a Phillips head screwdriver, and you don’t get it squarely in the cross of the screwdriver.”

For the error, Mercedes holds the record of the longest pitstop in the history of Formula One. The team took 43 hours and 15 minutes to take off the right-front wheel from Valtteri’s F1 car. 

Rohit Chatterjee

An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Rohit Chatterjee is a bona fide moto-enthusiast who has worked with several media houses in his brief career. Chatterjee mostly writes features and news articles related to automobiles and motorsports. When not working, he is found on the interstate clocking over 100kmph on his NS200!
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