Eight races, eight fastest pit stops: Williams left the competition no chance in Baku. Three of the four fastest stops went to the team from Grove. Only Red Bull Racing got in the way of a Williams hat-trick with the stop for Daniel Ricciardo.
But Williams not only achieved the fastest pit stop in the still nascent Formula 1 history of Azerbaijan, the team also matched the previous world record with a record stop of 1.92 seconds (Felipe Massa)! The previous top time was a stop by Red Bull driver Mark Webber in the 2013 United States Grand Prix, also in the record time of 1.92 seconds.
A look at the timesheet shows just how much the unbeaten Williams series of best times is driving the other teams to achieve similar top performances: 21 of the 33 pit stops during the 2016 FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX OF EUROPE were below the magic three-second benchmark figure! This shows once again that the #GreatIsInTheDetail motto could not be more apt where Formula 1 pit stops are concerned!
One-stop strategy brings victory
Formula 1 teams faced an entirely fresh challenge at the Baku City Circuit – the fastest street circuit on the calendar! Drivers reached top speeds of well over 360 km/h during the weekend. However, that required a special compromise for setup. On the one hand, teams wanted as little drag as possible for the long straights, but the cars also needed sufficient downforce through the turns to ensure a fast lap time. As so often in Formula 1, every little detail counts.
That was also the case as regards pit stops and the right race strategy. Most teams opted for a one-stopper. Consequently, the first Baku winner, Nico Rosberg, came in on Lap 21 for his only pit stop of the race to switch from the supersoft tire to the soft compound. Teammate Lewis Hamilton was on a similar strategy but pitted on Lap 15. However, problems with adjustments to his hybrid energy management cost him the chance to use strategy to push up further than fifth at the finish line.
Sebastian Vettel did better. The Ferrari driver didn't opt for a two-stopper, as suggested to him by his team. Instead, he came in only once and so, bagged second place behind Rosberg. His teammate Kimi Räikkönen, however, stuck to guidelines, pitted early and dropped back to fourth place behind Sergio Perez in the final stages thanks to tires that were practically shot.