McLaren completed the season in fifth place in the Constructors’ category, a year in which there was no shortage of positive signs from the Woking stable. Among these are the great progress in performing pit stops, such as to make the British team one of the points of reference in the pit lane. The record for the fastest stop of the season was set by McLaren, who completed the tire change on Ricciardo’s car in Mexico in 1.98 seconds. Attending pit stops of less than two seconds again seemed like a prohibitive undertaking at the start of the season. On the one hand, the FIA technical directive had imposed a minimum reaction time for the green light to be issued, while on the other, the transition to new tires on 18-inch rims increased the weight of each wheel by about 3 kg, slowing down operations extraction and replacement.
However, McLaren has optimized its instrumentation for changing tires, as analyzed by Craig Scarborough and Sam Collins during the episode of Tech talksthe in-depth technical program produced by Formula 1. Looking at the still images of the McLaren pit-stop operations, the two analysts noticed how the pneumatic guns designed in Woking have an LED disc around the screwdriver. During the unscrewing phase, the LEDs light up whitethen change color to blue in the transition to screwing, so as to provide the mechanic with an additional tool for checking the actual change in the direction of rotation of the gun, shortening the times for any changes in the settings of the gun itself. The angular position and torque sensors finally register the completion of the rundown, to which it corresponds the green illumination of the LEDs which speeds up the verification by the mechanic, shortening the dead time before removing the gun. At the same time, the chief mechanic notices the green light more easily even before the wheel operator has raised the pistol to signal the completion of the operation, speeding up the release of the single-seater.
On the same screwdriver you can also see several alternating yellow and orange tabs. These are optical references that allow the gun instrumentation to control the rotation in relation to the applied torque, so as to verify that the nut is correctly tightened along its axis. It therefore becomes apparent how much attention McLaren has devoted to tire changes, efforts that have earned praise from Andreas Seidl: “Overall, the team has moved in the right direction and that’s the most important thing. One thing in particular I would like to mention is the pit stops, which have been a challenging area for us over the last few years. It is a clear example of the collaboration of everyone in the project, from the engineering of the pit stops to the production, up to the team here on the track,” concluded the Team Principal.
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