How do Pit Stop Strategies work?

Category: Teams

Meticulously planned strategy is key to F1 success, being the focus for the teams that starts well before the cars hit the track for the first event of the season and span the entire season. To win the championship, teams need to maximise points from every race and with regulations limiting parts, they must decide when to push and when not to.

Pit stop strategy is about getting to the finish line in the shortest possible amount of time. The regulations require a minimum of one pit stop and teams must run at least two different tyre compounds. So, a “one-stop strategy” is the minimum.

Pirelli, F1’s tyre supplier, play a significant part in influencing pitstop strategy, by bringing tyre compounds to the track that will be on the limit. This forces teams to decide whether they can push the car on old tyres, with reduced grip, or whether a further pit stop and fresh tyres, will give them an advantage.

The teams have an allocation of tyres being the hard tyre, medium tyre, and soft tyre. The hard will last longer but they are slower, whereas the soft will not last as long, but the additional grip allows them to go faster. There is roughly one second per lap between the three compounds.

And remember, a pit stop costs a team roughly 25 seconds, depending on the track. This is the combined result of leaving the track, travelling through the pits at a reduced speed, the physical stop and re-joining the race.

Ahead of the race, teams calculate their lap times for each of the tire options, factoring in degradation, a mix of tyre compound and pit stop time, to work out the fastest possible way to the finish line. This will determine if they are on a one-stop, two-stop or three-stop strategy. But this is formula 1, so there is always a Plan B or Plan C available should something happen.

Pitstop strategy can be affected by what other teams do. If your competitor pits you may follow him in to cover his move and maintain your position, or you may stay out to try and gain an advantage. Like and undercut.

A safety car or red flag provides teams with the opportunity to make a fast call and switch strategies as the loss of time associated with the pitstop is greatly reduced. And then there is the question over rain… A wet race is one thing but a chance of showers really throws a spanner in the works.

Teams may pit a driver towards the end of the race if the gap to the next driver is more than the pitstop loss to get fresh tires and go for the fastest lap and snatch the bonus point.

Pit stop strategy –


Did you find this FAQ helpful?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Andrew Burden

The author Kiwi F1 Fan

Leave a Response