Racing Academy: The Evolution of Pit Stops

Learn about the evolution of pit stops and strategy in Formula E…

Strategy plays a key role in motorsport, and from single-seater to sportscar racing, carefully calculated and data-driven decision making can be the difference between winning and losing.

Since its inception, Formula E has been under constant development, and just like the electromobility arena itself, has been at the forefront of innovation.

In today’s generation of competition, Attack Mode is a key influencer of a race, but in the championship’s first iteration, strategy took an entirely different form.

Over Formula E’s short history, the pit stop has changed dramatically but it was this mid-race trip down the pit lane from Seasons 1-4 that made the series so unique.

Facing a limited amount of usable energy in this format, drivers and teams would swap cars at the half-way point of every race, using an entirely different vehicle to take the chequered flag.

“Pit stops used to be compulsory in Formula E because we had to change cars,” explains ROKiT Venturi Racing Team Manager, Delphine Biscaye.

“The car used to come in nose first and the driver would jump out after undoing their seat belt and disconnecting the radio. Two mechanics would then help them into the second car.

“At first, we had a minimum pit stop time which was introduced to ensure that every team was taking enough time to safely belt a driver into the second car. Safety was the main focus.

“As we became more experienced at practising pit stops, this minimum time was removed ahead of the Season 4 Marrakesh E-Prix which meant we could perform every stop as fast as possible”

With more usable energy in the Gen2 car, Formula E’s pit stops for energy alone became dormant for Season 5, with this mandatory pause in racing getting replaced by Attack Mode.

Now, a driver only enters the pit lane during a race in the worst circumstances – for repairs, to serve a penalty, or to retire from an event.

“When we passed into Gen2, the pit stop was completely removed and was replaced by Attack Mode,” continues Delphine.

“The only reason for entering the pit lane now is if you need to change something such as the front wing, or if you need to serve a penalty but this stop is no longer mandatory.

“If we do have to pit – unlike other series – there is no limitation on the number of crew members who are allowed to work on the car.

“The only limitation on the number of people comes in parc ferme conditions. When we are under parc ferme, only one mechanic can work on the car and only two can push it from the garage back to the pit lane if we are into Super Pole after the qualifying sessions.

“Looking back, the pit stops were great for fans but for us, it was really stressful. A race can go perfectly in the first half, but if you make a mistake in the pit lane, that would be it - game over.

“We saw that throughout the paddock but the risk that comes with a pit stop, especially in the first generation, is very nerve-wracking.”