By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
From worst to first, Williams Martini Racing has turned around its biggest Achilles heel – their pitstop work.
After several disastrous stops in 2014 and 2015 cost the team potential shots at victory, Rob Smedley knew something needed to change.
The performance chief of the Grove based outfit put together an internal working group with the goal not only of abolishing mistakes in pitlane, but to become the best on the grid.
After the first five races of 2016, the fruit of this endeavor has seen Williams set the fastest pitstop times in every Grand Prix this season.
“We went right through the process of identifying what we were doing wrong. There was some stuff that was clearly wrong and some stuff which was more subtle, and in going through that we have made changes to both the car and the pitstop hardware. We’ve also a very good training regime from what Steve Nielsen does with the guys and what our trainer does as well. All of that is working very well.”
Their times are getting better too.
From a season opening best of 2.35 seconds for Valtteri Bottas, to a blistering 2.12 second stop for Felipe Massa last time out in Spain.
Had such a system been in place it is likely that Bottas could have won in Austria in 2014 and Massa later that season in Canada, but hindsight is 20/20 and Williams must do all they can to capitalize on their pace before others get on terms with their powerful Mercedes engines. As Red Bull and Ferrari make it ever more difficult for Williams to reach the podium, let alone Mercedes, having the best pitstops in the game gives them a crucial edge in a sport where every tenth counts.
Image: Williams F1