The history of auto racing and F1 is filled with innovation and general progress.
As technology has progressed, so have the components that deliver safety, speed, and aerodynamics. In the modern world, auto recycling is one of the results of such innovation since vehicles are constantly being improved while older models are constantly being made obsolete. Of course, auto recycling is a great thing since it provides a method for reusing the valuable resources that go into producing the massive numbers of vehicles that are built every year. It might surprise many to learn that auto recycling and beer keg recycling are much more closely related than they appear.
During the vast history of F1, improvements to the vehicles themselves were just part of what drove the industry to where it is today. A documentary that was recently produced by Red Bull Racing shows that much more beyond the vehicles has changed. The idea of a pit stop has evolved through several stages, and the documentary goes into detail explaining where many of the classic traditions of the fast-paced pit stop emerged. The documentary is hosted by a retired F1 driver by the name of David Coulthard, and it is an amazing consolidation of the history behind the F1 pit stop. Those who are interested in F1 racing and have 45 minutes to spare should take the time to watch this film.
Formula 1 Documentary
The documentary includes quite a bit of information regarding both the early and modern days of Formula 1 racing. The film showcases the dangers of the early pit stops, and it details the fast-paced pit stops and perfectly synced crews of the current age. It also includes a great deal of information about general daily life on a Formula 1 team both then and now, and it illuminates many of the most famous figureheads in the Formula 1 landscape, including Bernie Ecclestone. While the information about early F1 life is quite fascinating, it is possible that the most interesting story in the documentary details how the designer of the original McLaren F1 also created the system for the modern pit stop routine.
The creator of the McLaren F1 was a man named Gordon Murray, and he is one of the most respected and cited men within the Formula 1 industry. His team came up with the system for modern pit stops during the 1980s. During the time, pit stops were already in use by racers, but they were slow and often caused more problems than they solved, especially from a timing standpoint. Older F1 cars were built to carry more fuel and to last longer on their tires since pit stops had yet to be perfected. Murray knew there had to be a better system, so he began to look for ways to remove additional weight from the car. At the time, he was working on the Brabham F1 team, and he realized that a huge portion of the weight from an F1 vehicle came from the fuel. In order to combat that issue, he tried to come up with a method that would allow cars to carry less fuel, which would translate to less drag and a faster car. However, he had to get around the limitations of the old, slow style of pit stops.
Beer Kegs Used for Fuel
As with most solutions to new problems, necessity was the mother of invention. Murray and his team realized they could pump more fuel into the cars at a faster rate if they put the fuel under pressure. In order to accomplish this goal, they created a new fueling system that used a pressurized beer keg filled with 30 gallons of fuel. The new system allowed the team to pump the entirety of the fuel into the vehicle in only 3 seconds. They painted their keg systems with the color schemes of the team, and a new standard was born.
Since the new fuel system freed up so much time, the team realized they would also have the chance to change the vehicles tires, but since the new fueling system was so efficient, they had to come up with a new method of changing the tires quickly. Not only that, but the tires had to remain warm so they wouldn’t split or damage when fresh tire were put on the vehicle. They solved both these issues by building a heated box to store the tires before they were needed, and they started loading wheel nuts into their air guns before the car arrived in the pit. This allowed them to shave precious seconds off their total pit stop time, which makes all the difference in a race. It took some time before the strategies started to pay off, but when engines became more reliable, the benefits were undeniable.