Formula One pit stops require a mix of human talent and superfast tools to achieve the fastest times. But how much does an F1 pit crew member make?
A tenth of a second gained or lost in the pit lane can have make-or-break consequences on a drivers’ race. It can be the difference between coming out ahead of a rival or losing the position you are fighting over.
Red Bull hold the record for the fastest pit stop at 1.82 seconds, set at the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix. The Milton Keynes outfit have also claimed the fastest stop at four of the opening six rounds of the 2021 Formula One season, with an average time of 1.97 seconds.
Red Bull have one of the best pit crews in F1 at changing all four tyres quickly and, importantly, efficiently.
They will also occasionally have to adjust the front wing angle or replace it after contact, adding crucial seconds to a stop. But how much are the 20 members of a pit crew, each with a role, paid?
F1 pit crew chief: How much are they paid?
A Formula One pit crew chief is responsible for selecting which tyres go on the car and deciding what strategy is best. Usually, they are located on the pit wall during a Grand Prix, alongside the team principal, team manager, race engineers and a strategist.
Given their role, the crew chief is also the best-paid member of an F1 pit crew. Figures provided by Sporting Free show them as earning an annual salary of £700,000.
They also receive a per-race bonus of £7k and a further £3.5k for a win.
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Wheel gun operator and tyre carries
The wheel gun operator has one of the more delicate roles in a pit stop to ensure the tyres and changed quickly and without issue.
They must line the pneumatic gun, pressurised with compressed air, perfectly with the nut to either loosen or tighten it.
A mistake can be the difference between a good stop or a bad one, and can even end a race. Valtteri Bottas found that out the hard way at the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix, when his front-right tyre became stuck on his Mercedes after the gun machined the metal off the nut.
The gun operator is generally paid £250k-a-year with a per-race bonus of £3.5k and a further £1.7k for a win.
Those tasked with carrying the new wheels and putting them on the car earn £190k-a-year, with £2.5k in per-race bonuses and £1.7k should they win.
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Jack operator and wing adjusters
In order for a Formula One car to have its tyres changed, it first must be lifted off the ground. F1 teams use specialised jacks to lift the car by the front wing and rear crash structure, which can also then release the car at the press of a button to save time.
The front jack operator must stand in the path of the car as it is driven into the box. This can sometimes lead to mechanics being shunted out of the way when a driver has either overshot their marks or suffered a brake failure.
Sporting Free claim the jack operators earn on average £106k-a-year, plus bonuses of £2k per-race and £350 for a win. The mechanics tasked with making any wing angle adjustments or replacements earn the same.
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Additional F1 pit crew members
Formula One cars have a minimum weight without fuel of 752kg in 2021. But this will increase to 790kg for 2022’s next set of regulations, while with fuel, cars weigh 900kg for the start of the Grand Prix. A significant increase on the last cars of the V8 era in 2013, which were as much as 148kg lighter.
To keep the car stable during pit stops, teams locate a crew member on either side to avoid any body roll once it is lifted onto the jacks. These members earn £64k-a-year, plus £1.7k-a-race and £177 for a win.
Teams also keep at least two members on standby – one to restart the engine in the event a driver stalls and one with a fire extinguisher.
These members earn £28k and £21k-a-year each, plus per-race bonuses of £530, £350 and £177 for a win.
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