The Team Red Bull's performance this season has been nothing short of dominant. Adrian Newey's design gave the RB7 performance where it mattered and right out the gate, it has been lightyears ahead of any of the competing Formula 1 cars. What's more, Sebastian Vettel's talent behind the wheel earned him a total of 15 pole positions, one more than the previously held record by Nigel Mansell in 1992. Simply, not once did Red Bull Racing ever lose a grand prix to another opponent due to a lack of outright pace.
But Red Bull isn't invincible and a race can be won or lost by tire choices and pit stop strategies. A well oiled pit crew can save a team's race and a bad wheel gun could tear their race apart. If a Red Bull gets caught behind a McLaren and has trouble completing a pass even though its capable of turning a faster lap, the team might rethink their strategy and dive into the pits a lap early to rejoin with fresh tires and clear air. At the same time, if the McLaren does get passed and has trouble taking back the position from the Red Bull or trouble maintaining the gap, he may follow the Red Bull into the pits and hope that new tires or a quicker pit stop can send him ahead again.
Here are a selection of pit stops, some perfect and others disastrous, that display the importance and dynamism of what an array of mechanics must do within 4 short seconds.
The first video examines Force India's pit crew and the roles of each mechanic. Note that the 2009 season was the last season that permitted refueling during a pitstop.
Next, some footage of Red Bull's morning practice at Barcelona. It looks sloppy in the beginning but you can see the progression of efficiency with every stop.
Then, take a look at the time difference between Team Mercedes and Team Lotus. In the 2011 season's 19 races, Team Mercedes shares the title of fastest average stop times with Red Bull Racing.
The driver's responsibility is just as great as the team of mechanics. Watch Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton fight for position as they enter and exit the pit area.
Perhaps the most embarrassing pit incident of the season, Jenson Button dives into the wrong box and loses the all-important fraction of a second.
Nevermind. Jenson's stop is no where near as embarrassing as Jérôme d'Ambrosio's.