The Power of The Pitstop Metaphor
The Power of Focused Ambition
If you want to know what great teamwork looks like then simply type ‘pitstop’ into YouTube (or watch the video below). The precisely timed millimeter perfect choreography of the pitstop is the new standard for teamwork.
Out-maneuvering the competition, driver passion and skill, technology and innovation – all of these key success factors in F1™ can inspire managers. But there is one aspect of F1™ that is particularly relevant to ambitious managers – that is the Pitstop.
Here we explain what a pitstop is and why it matters to you and your team.
Why take a pitstop?
There are only two reasons to take a pitstop:
The first is to pitstop is to maximize your chances of winning – optimizing the performance of the car, by means of fresh tires and so on. In addition, getting the timing of the pitstop right, could help the driver overtake a competitor’s car on exiting the pitlane.
The second reason to take a pitstop is to prevent things happening that could cause you to lose the race – such as running out of fuel, or a worn tire blowing out. Presently, taking a minimum number of pitstops is mandated in F1 – so anyway there is no choice. Here is what happens in the pitlane:
Regardless of the particular rationale for taking one, the speed and efficiency of the pitstop is of crucial importance. The reason is obvious – when you are standing still in the pitlane, your competitors are racing ahead.
Pitstops are undertaken in rapid time. One second… two seconds and the car is off again. yes that is not a typo – it is just two seconds. the car is lifted four wheels are replaced any other adjustments made and off the car goes again, speeding away and quickly reaching speeds of up to 270kmhr Any delay can be costly.
In the 2014 Australian Grand prix the gap between the winner and the contender was a mere 1.36 seconds. That is why in F1 the pit teams have to be as fast as the cars. However, some teams are better than others, but the driver with the fastest pit team has a real advantage.
Performance in the Pitlane
Performance in the pitlane comes down to people and in particular how well they work together. That is because despite the sophistication of F1, pitstops are largely a manual affair. Yes there are some tools (jacks to lift the car and pneumatic wrenches to change the wheels), but the work is labour intensive.
A team of up to 20 mechanics and engineers surrounds the car as it comes to a stop. The clock is ticking they all have a job to do and all share a common single purpose: – winning.
The New standard for Teamwork
The ‘precisely timed millimeter perfect choreography of the pitstop’ is the new standard for teamwork. There is extreme urgency and zero margin for error. Imagine what would happen if some people turned up with the wrong tools and others showed up with no tools. Worse still if some did not show up at all. That is not the pitstop way.
Pitcrews are not just composed on lowly paid mechanics with oily rags. They include the engineering managers and designers who know that they can learn a lot more track-side than behind the desk. The pitlane becomes their office for important race events.
Strategy in the Pitlane
Pitstops are meticulous planned. The optimum timing of a pitstop involves science and strategy. Factors include fuel load, tire wear, track conditions and the likelihood of overtaking. But of course there is also luck.
Zero Margin for Error
While pitstops are about winning there are penalties for getting it wrong. A slow pitstop is only part of the problem. Cars have left the pitlane on 3 tires, or with fuel hoses attached. But carelessness or error in the pitlane can result in costly penalties. That includes pulling into the wrong pit, exiting in front of another car, hitting somebody in the pit lane, existing the pit lane dangerously. In a race where milliseconds matter, any of these could result in a penalty of up to 10 seconds.
Pitstops are in effect a virtuous Plan-Do-Review cycle. A strategy is set out pre-race, but continually up-dated to reflect changes in road conditions, competitor moves and so on. Performance is continually monitored, with changes made quickly as required within the pitlane.
There are many reasons for saying that:
Similarly these are the reasons for saying that the pitstop is: