|April 8, 2006
Service in Four Seconds
What can you do within four seconds’ time? Perhaps make a small move in your household, or walk a few steps, at most. In the DTM this time is sufficient to perform "routine maintenance” on an Audi A4 DTM – changing four tyres and refuelling within a period of time that is shorter than the duration of a Formula 1 pit stop.
The regulations require each driver to pit twice during the race, and the interaction between the crew at work, which may include up to 16 members, is unique. One man ensures that the car is lifted by air pressure while it is still rolling towards the stopping location at the pit. Two mechanics per wheel change the tyres, while another crew member refuels the Audi A4 DTM with roughly 20 litres of petrol. The other assistants perform miscellaneous jobs such as giving instructions and signals, or carrying out monitoring, clean-up and safety tasks. A complex electronics system detects when each of the mechanics has completed his particular task. The system lowers the racing car fully automatically from the built-in compressed air jack system and gives the driver the signal to proceed. There is even time to push the button at the rear: this activates the light-emitting diodes inside a side window, which show the spectators how many stops the driver has completed at this time.
The Audi teams have clocked themselves at less than four seconds as their own record for a pit stop – this puts them among the quickest in the DTM. And on Sunday, in the 2006 season opener, this speed may be crucial for determining the outcome of the race.