(Motorinformed.com) – At the DTM season opener in Monza, the AF-Corse-Ferrari crew shocked the competition with sensational pit stops: Alex Albon was dispatched at Saturday’s race in just 6.961 seconds! In fact, none of the Italian team’s four home game stops lasted longer than 7.9 seconds, which earned them victory on Saturday with Liam Lawson at the wheel.
© Red Bull
Clever: while the man at the front attaches the wheel, the rear wheel is changed
For comparison: the best stop of the competition from Mercedes-AMG, which the HRT team held at Vincent Abril on Sunday, lasted 8.701 seconds. “The Ferraris were one to two seconds faster than everyone else,” said ex-DTM champion Martin Tomczyk at ‘ran.de’. “It’s a world in motorsport.”
But what does the group do differently? Winner Lawson points to the hard work of his team. “The guys have definitely worked very hard on that,” says the New Zealander at ‘ran.de’. Even in the night from Saturday to Sunday they still practiced stops. “I can’t reveal too much about the exact process, but as long as I stop on the marker, they do it really well.”
This is how the AF Corse choreography works
Even if Lawson does not want to reveal anything, the competition has long since pricked up his ears: And has carefully analyzed video recordings of the stops. Above all, the unusual choreography caught the eye immediately. “The impact wrench man goes to the front of the wheel and only solves it,” says Abt sports director Thomas Biermaier in an interview with ‘Motorinformed.com’.
Instead of pulling off the wheel and waiting until the colleague has plugged in the new wheel so that it can be screwed on, he immediately runs to the rear wheel. “He changes the wheel at the back and saves himself having to pull the wheel off and put it down. Alone that costs us a second, “said Biermaier. Then the man with the impact wrench runs back to the front wheel, which is already plugged in – and only has to screw it on.
Ex-Audi man is behind a strong AF Corse crew
And Mercedes-AMG customer sports coordinator Thomas Jäger also recognizes the advantage of the AF Corse stops: “You don’t have the dead time that you have to wait for the bike to be on. You just have more walking distance,” he says indicates that the man with the impact wrench has to move once more from the rear axle to the front axle.
The German Ron Reichert, who was responsible for Audi’s customer racing program in Asia for years, was then brought in by team boss Amato Ferrari as the sporting director for the DTM project and, according to information from ‘Motorsport- Total.com ‘had pit stops practiced intensively on the rolling vehicle over the past two months.
Audi, Lamborghini and BMW: Why you can’t copy
But can one now assume that the competition will copy the AF Corse stops? “We couldn’t do that in terms of the choreography,” says Biermaier in the negative. This is because the rims of the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo have a locking ring that ensures that the nut cannot loosen. If you don’t have that, you always have to change a complete wheel before you switch to the next wheel.
“We can see that we can get closer, but we have no chance against these times”, Biermaier shrugs his shoulders. Before the season opener, the Audi teams were actually favored for the stops because the R8 LMS system, which is also used in the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, has fewer threads. According to the official pit stop times, the Abt crew completed the fastest stop at Mike Rockenfeller’s in 8.881 seconds.
But the Abt sports director doubts the data. “These times are wrong,” says Biermaier. “If we analyze our stops – and they are analogous to the previous year’s analysis – then we are between 7.4 and 7.9 seconds. 7.5 seconds must always be possible. Then the Red Bull is still seven tenths missing -Ferrari – and you have no chance. “
Wheel locking system and nut as a disadvantage of Mercedes-AMG
While the Audi, Lamborghini and BMW teams have no chance of taking over the AF Corse choreography, things are different with the Mercedes-AMG teams. Because the AMG GT3 is the only car besides the Ferrari that also has a safety ring on the rim.
“That’s right,” says customer sport coordinator Jäger. “But it has a small advantage over our wheel locking system. You have fewer threads when you tighten it. This means that you can tighten it incredibly quickly.” And the Mercedes-AMG system has another disadvantage: the wheel nuts are not made of steel, as is the case with other manufacturers, but of aluminum.
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“That was the topic at Lucas Auer’s stop,” says Jäger. “There was a bad start at the back, then the trigger was pulled too early – and then the chips fly at the aluminum nut.” This means that you always have to apply the impact wrench straight so that no mishap happens. “And you can’t optimize anything because the system is homologated,” Jäger clarifies. “The Ferrari system, on the other hand, is not so prone to errors.”
Will Mercedes-AMG take over the choreography?
But are the Mercedes-AMG teams now thinking of at least taking over the AF Corse choreography? “The implementation is a team matter,” replies Jäger. “But everyone saw that there is a need for action. The teams will analyze everything again and see what the fastest way is,” he suggests that there could soon be Mercedes-AMG stops with the AF Corse choreography.
In this regard, the teams are also offered help: “We have a performance engineer with the teams, have collected all the information and are now looking over it.” But despite the wheel nut advantage, there is also a disadvantage with the Mercedes-AMG GT3: While the air lance is plugged into the rear of the Ferrari so that the mechanic responsible can tackle the rear wheel change right away, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 has the attachment point in front of the door.
“Then it will be even more crucial”
That doesn’t make the choreography any easier, because the man responsible has no other tasks. It will be interesting to see whether the Mercedes-AMG teams can also find ways to stage the man at the air lance in such a way that the stops become more efficient.
What stopping times does Jäger consider possible in the AMG GT3? “HRT was quite close, they were our best team at the stops,” says Jäger. “They were once six tenths and once eight tenths away. If we are in the range of half a second to the Ferrari, then that’s great.”
The ex-DTM driver knows that this topic could decide the championship. “When the gaps are as tight as in Monza and it’s about the track position, then it’s about the sausage,” said Jäger. “Then it will be even more crucial than it was before.”