Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Hockenheimring, 2016

‘Stopwatch failure’ behind Rosberg’s slow pit stop

2016 German Grand Prix

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Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff admitted a problem with a simple stopwatch explained why Nico Rosberg lost too much time serving a penalty during the German Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hockenheimring, 2016
German GP in pictures
Rosberg was given a five-second time penalty following an incident with Max Verstappen which he served during his final pit stop. However the team appeared to keep him stationary for over eight seconds before beginning work on his car.

Wolff told the BBC the team’s mistake had a basic cause. “Believe it or not, even in a Formula One team a stopwatch can fail,” he said. “That’s what happened, so we took it safe.”

Rosberg eventually finished fourth having failed to get ahead of either Red Bull, However Wolff believed “it wouldn’t have changed the race outcome anyway” had the stop been shorter.

After starting from pole position Rosberg endured a difficult race. “Obviously it started with a bad start,” said Wolff. “But then there wasn’t enough pace in his car and on top of that we had a pit stop that was too slow.”

2016 German Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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34 comments on “‘Stopwatch failure’ behind Rosberg’s slow pit stop”

  1. I thought i heared him say the stopwatch started at -3!

    1. Yes, amazing.

    2. at first I thought someone hit the 8 key, right above the 5 key on a computer number pad. Has Mercedes taken a in race time penalty this season?

      Right now it looks like Nico’s car is more susceptible to getting stuck behind other cars. I wonder if he has a different brake setup.

      1. Shminder Chatha
        4th August 2016, 4:12

        Nico pitted on lap #44.
        Of course he had an slower one.
        If you know what I mean.
        Lol

  2. I wonder if he was managing the gap then or flat out racing. Incidents like this is why it is sometimes necessary to have a healthy margin of say 7-10 secs.

    1. Fight would be close without penalty, Riciardo was catching him rapidly.. They would have fought it out on track.

  3. Sorry…but it just made me chuckle! :-)

    1. It was probably Hamilton’s watch.

  4. I cannot believe a simple stopclock just fails.
    I personally believe that they just couldn´t find it :)

  5. ColdFly F1 (@)
    31st July 2016, 15:49

    my ‘1 Mississippi’ still worked.

    1. Sure, that’s the method adopted by the FIA!

  6. MG421982 (@)
    31st July 2016, 15:53

    It’s obvious Mercedes is trying everything to give the title to Hamilton. Suddenly all of the bad luck, problems and bad part of the team found home in ROS’ garage. Did you see those pit-stops, 2.6s and 3.5s while 2.5s or less for HAM’s pit-stops?!? This is outrageous!

    1. Can I just attempt a sensible reply at such a comment. I’m not sure whether it’s meant to be sarcastic, but anyway it’s got my attention.

      If a team principal informs a mechanic to mess up a tyre change, don’t you think that would be a highly risky strategy for slowing down one of your drivers? If the mechanic went to the press with that it would be an absolute scandal and there are many other easier ways of manipulating a result anyway.

      Again, apologies for injecting some common sense if you were indeed being sarcastic.

      1. MG421982 (@)
        31st July 2016, 17:09

        Yeah, just being ultra-sarcastic! Thanks for bothering to answer tho.

    2. Simon (@weeniebeenie)
      31st July 2016, 17:00

      @corrado-dub @john-h It’s funny, a few races this was the other way around, Hamilton was getting slower stops and mechanical issues and some suggested Mercedes were favouring Nico.

      Have the team switched allegiance or could it just be that, shock of shocks, human errors are random?

      1. MG421982 (@)
        31st July 2016, 17:15

        Exactly… few races ago things were the other way around. Was just being sarcastic and I hope those who came up with the conspiracy theory that Mercedes is handing over the title to ROS will just stop spamming the threads with ridiculous comments about pit stops differences of 0,1sec… being some sort of conspiracy. I hardly believe the mechanics can “handle” 0,1sec on purpose.

  7. Im pretty sure the problem was with whoever was manning the perfectly fine stopwatch.

    1. Indeed. It is a poor works man who blames his tools!

  8. 8s is understatement, as I believe the TV showed 12s stationary time..

    1. 8 second penalty time, plus 4 second stop makes 12 second stationary time. Looked to me like a problem with a rear tyre, but could also have just been timing issues.

  9. Neil (@neilosjames)
    31st July 2016, 17:59

    So often the small, inexpensive parts that fail…

    I always imagined in such a situation (as in every situation where it’s possible), the teams would have some redundancy… two stopwatches, perhaps.

    1. Redundancy is not an solution when you need to act fast. By the time you realise the first dude has screwed up its already to late. You get only one chance.

  10. Mark in Florida
    31st July 2016, 18:53

    Apparently it was one of Lewis’s guy’s holding the watch for the pit crew. Ha,ha,ha.

  11. I guess they tried using the stopwatch that’s on Nico’s left glove :)

  12. High end IWC watches…

  13. Did they stop the start watch?

    1. No, they stopped the stop watch from starting rather than starting the stop watch to start the pitstop 5sec stop before the actual pirstop started.

    2. I hope this is a Murray reference :)

  14. It was obviously a Tag Heuer watch.

  15. Sergey Martyn
    1st August 2016, 6:13

    I’m not Nico’s fan but let’s do a flashmob – send stopwatch to Mercedes!

  16. John Broomfield
    1st August 2016, 12:12

    Lousy advertising for IWC.

    .

  17. Can you imagine the reaction from the conspiracy theorists if Mercedes had had those stopwatch problems with Hamilton and he had a longer stop than was necessary?

    They would have gone into meltdown with about Mercedes wanted Rosberg to win the title and that they were sabotaging Hamilton.

    I hope they remember that no matter how good a team is they can always make a stupid mistake and it is not part of some big master plan to fix the result.

  18. I’m stunned that at an event where the makers of the most expensive timepieces in the world spend millions in advertising, they can’t manage to find a stopwatch that can do what the cheapest plastic Casio can easily do; i.e.; … count-down five seconds accurately.

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