After trying his hand at the Red Bull Pitstop Challenge game, Alex Albon recently spoke to South African broadcast legend and Formula 1 superfan, Anele Mdoda, in an exclusive 947 interview.
Albon marvels at the Aston Martin Red Bull pit crew’s record-breaking performances, which he believes played a crucial role in his meteoric rise to fame in F1 – one of the world’s most elite and precise sports where every fraction of a second counts. “The level is so high, down to the tenth of a second on the circuit and in pitstop,” he explains.
Albon describes his pit crew’s now famous 1.82 second record as an incredible experience, all thanks to the hard work and superhuman efforts of the mechanics. “Everyone thinks we [the drivers] are the athletes… but really mechanics have all this training, non-stop practicing to be as good as they are. So, it’s really a team sport,” he says.
The 1.82 second record set in 2019 at the Brazilian Grand Prix not only saw the team service Max Verstappen’s Honda-powered RB15 in this record-breaking time, but this incredible performance secured the Dutch driver’s hat-trick of Grand Prix wins that year.
This isn’t the only accomplishment of the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s pit crew team. The 2020 F1 season has again seen the pit crew dominate the leader boards, with the F1 Spanish Grand Prix marking their fastest performance for the sixth time in six races, and setting a new record for the 2020 season. Max Verstappen’s car was sent on its way in 1.90 seconds – just eight hundredths of a second shy of the world record previously set by them.
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing pit stop team is on a roll
It’s safe to say that 2019 was the year that Aston Martin Red Bull Racing broke pit stop records, most of which were their own.
The team first wowed F1 fans across the globe at the 2019 British Grand Prix – pulling off an impressive 1.91 second pit stop with Pierre Gasly at the wheel. The team went on to break that record in the same year, at the German Grand Prix, servicing Verstappen’s car in a mere 1.88 seconds, before clocking the current world record of 1.82 seconds.
So far, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing has been the only team, other than Williams, to get all four tyres changed in under two seconds.
This team has taken pit stops to a whole new altitude
Naturally, after performing three record-breaking pit stops in a single season (on earth), the team at Red Bull felt it was time to put the phrase, “the sky’s the limit”, to the test.
In need of a new challenge, the pit crew took to the skies to perform a pit stop in zero gravity. At an altitude of 33,000 feet on board a cosmonaut training plane, the team serviced a 2005 RB1 car, with the plane undergoing a series of 45° angle climbs and ballistic arc drops to give the pit crew a period of weightlessness lasting around 22 seconds.
The team won the DHL Fastest Pit Stop Award based on consistency, not just speed
Contrary to what the name would suggest, the DHL Fastest Pit Stop Award isn’t awarded to the team that clocks the fastest pit stop of the year, but rather to the team that is consistently at the top of its pit stop game throughout the season.
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing won the trophy for the first time in 2020 for its consistency in the pit area by recording the fastest pit stop across nine races.
This pit crew doesn’t break a sweat during practice
Pushing the car back into the garage after every practice pit stop can be tiring. So, the team decided it was time to turn to more innovative methods that wouldn’t leave the mechanics feeling exhausted.
The team introduced an all-electric powered dummy car in 2014 that allowed the mechanics to simply push a button for the car to lurch backwards and be ready for another practice stop.
The team is kept mentally and physically sharp at all times
For the team to consistently perform at record-breaking speeds, every team member, from mechanics to the track-side infrastructure engineer (who happens to be South African), must stay sharp, both in and outside of the pit area.
When the ability to service a car to completion in under two seconds can make or break a race, quick reactions and precision are vital. The team’s ability to pull together in high-pressured situations is clearly behind the magic it creates on the circuit.
Red Bull is now offering fans the chance to beat the fastest pit stop time in the world. Fans who think they’ve got what it takes can play the Red Bull Pitstop Challenge game to stand the chance to win a Red Bull Racing experience at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria.
Listen to the full interview with Anele and Alex here: Alex Albon: What else can he do in 1.82 seconds?