Worst Pit Stops of the 2009 Formula1 Season


What Happens When the Lists Continue, Part 6

1:54am EST — Continuing the best and worst lists of the 2009 Formula1 season, here are the worst pit stops, as determined by On Any Sunday, These Days.  The various other best and worst lists can be found through these links (best momentsworst moments, best new gadgets, worst new gadgets, and best pit stops).  To learn more about the process involved in the standard F1 pit stop, but particularly detailed to the Williams team, read “Ever Wonder What Happens During a Pitstop?” at On Any Sunday, These Days.  As per usual, constructive criticism and respectful debate is welcomed.  Blanket statements of hate, discrimination, or general idiocy, however, will be not be tolerated and will be removed, mocked mercilessly, or both.

The worst pit stop of the season was determined by considering the characteristics of a well-done pit stop: quick-thinking, great teamwork, and improvement in driver position by the work of the mechanics in pit lane, then deciding what pit stops least measured up to those standards. It was a difficult decision, because there were several quite bad pit stops on the final list, and because the teams practice stops so much and generally do a proper job on them, there really were only four or five stops that qualified for consideration.

Fernando Alonso’s pit stop, complete with loose wheel nut and later lost tire, at the Hungaroring would have been a runner-up, if only because he had shown such pace throughout the weekend, and the flying tire was a shock after the tragic events of the weekend (Henry Surtee’s death at Brands Hatch due to a flying tire and Felipe Massa’s injury druing qualifying due to a flying spring).  Another bad stop was the McLaren mix-up at Valencia, resulting in an extra slow stop as the strategy was changed at the last second and Lewis Hamilton was committed to stopping even as his mechanics were not ready, though it did not really qualify as a “worst pit stop” as Hamilton did not lose position nor did McLaren put anyone in danger.  A stop that did put people in danger was Jaime Alguersuari’s during the Singapore GP, as he left the pit when the rear jack went down, instead of waiting for the lollipop to be lifted.  Alguersuari took the still-attached fuel hose with him.  Luckily, no one was seriously injured, nor did anything catch on fire.

Runner-Up: Mark Webber’s Early Release Onto Pit Lane at the Belgian GP
Red Bull had a chance to continue decreasing the Brawn lead on the constructor’s championship at Spa, as Jenson Button was crashed out on the first lap and both Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were posting good lap times and moving through the field from their starting positions of eighth and ninth, respectively.  That is, until the first set of pit stops.  Webber was the first to stop for the team, who released him directly into the path of Nick Heidfeld.  Collision was narrowly avoided, and Webber was called back into the pits for a drive-through penalty, which had him rejoining in his final position of ninth.  This stop is the runner-up because of the danger involved, the carelessness shown by the team, and the loss of points that would have been helpful to both the team and Webber, had he continued to rise through the ranks as teammate Vettel did, finishing third.

Worst Pit Stop of the 2009 F1 Season: Heikki Kovalainen’s Conflagration During the Brazilian GP
Only marginally worse than the Webber stop because of the greater danger posed to the pit lane by fire is the worst pit stop of the 2009 season, when Kovalainen left his McLaren pit too early while the fuel hose was still attached to his car (either jumping the lollipop or over-anticipating its removal).  Where it not for what happened next, this stop would have gone the way of Alguersuari’s similar fueling incident mentioned earlier.  Instead, Kimi Raikkonen was released from his pit close behind and drove right into the spray of fuel, resulting in a ball of fire and fuel spraying under Raikkonen’s visor and irritating his eyes through the rest of the race.  A couple of mechanics also caught fire and were knocked down by the flying fuel hose.  As a reaction, not to this particular incident but to the inherent risk involved, there will be no refueling in 2010.  For this reason, and those stated above, this is the worst pit stop of the 2009 Formula1 season.

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2 Comments

  1. Refuelling is actually being banned for reasons of cost-saving rather than safety. Other than that, nice piece!

    • Thanks!
      I had assumed that the safety was an added benefit to the cost-saving. (though, you’re right, I should have mentioned the official reason as well.)
      I also read your sight and really enjoy the humor 🙂


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