Williams performance chief Rob Smedley believes his formation of an internal working group has reaped dividends with his team’s perfect pit stop performances this Formula 1 season.
From being one of the worst teams on the F1 grid in 2015, Williams has become the team to beat this year, executing the fastest stops in all five grands prix to date. In Australia, the quickest tire change was 2.35 seconds for Valtteri Bottas, lowered to 2.27s for Felipe Massa in Bahrain, and then 2.10s for the Brazilian in China. Massa has also benefitted from the best stops at the last two races in Russia and Spain, timed at 2.23s and 2.12s, respectively.
“Not to put the mockers on them but the guys have been doing a great job this year,” said Smedley. “It’s been a really good team effort from everybody right across the board at Grove. We finally understood we needed to react to the poor pit stops we were doing, and react we have.
“The guys have got the specific training they need, and it’s helping them, giving them confidence – and if they get more confidence then they get consistency. We’re not always going for the big numbers because if you reach for the moon, you fall on your arse, so we’re just trying to get consistently low twos and we’re doing that.”
Explaining the difference this year, Smedley added: “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 pit stop hardware. We’ve also a very good training regime from what [sporting manager] Steve Nielsen does with the guys and what our trainer does as well. All of that is working very well.”
Holding his hands up to the part he has played, Smedley added: “We’ve organized ourselves, to use the thing everybody loves in F1 – we’ve a pit stop working group. You’ve got to have a working group if something’s going wrong, and that was my invention, so I’m to blame for that one. Steve heads it up and does a very good job, while Carl Gaden, our senior systems engineer, is looking after all of the kit and making sure we have the correct design validation process. Those in the factory designing the bits have done a very good job, and it’s just bringing it all together.
“The one thing we haven’t really changed is the crew because we knew they were good and effectively doing a good job, but they didn’t have the right equipment. We’ve given them the right equipment and the results are there almost instantly.”