Video: Formula 1 Pit Stops 1950 & Today… a Huge Difference


I'm not a racing fan, but wow this video is impressive. I can appreciate a great process and all of the planning that's involved.

I can also see the difference between having four pit crew members and 18 crew members (or so… it's hard to count).

What can you do to improve your processes? It takes more than “throwing people at it” if that's even an option. What planning, training, tools and coordination are required?

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Mark – that’s awesome. In fact I was just talking about that recently but hadn’t seen the video. We were comparing the 9-12 month lead time to implement a software solution and discussing ways to get that down to 6 weeks – initially the team thought it was impossible.

  2. Equally impressive is the reduction in the amount of time it takes Nissan (and probably Toyota, Honda, etc.) to change a production line from one model year to the next. Weeks? Nope. Days? Hours? Uh, uh. Less than 50 minutes. Achieved via a long, Lean journey.

    The “long” part is important. In our haste to achieve cheaper, better, faster, we must keep safety foremost. Otherwise, bad things can happen:

    As I tell my crew when we’re running late, “We’re going to hurry slowly.”

    • Yes, that video shows 60 years of progress. I wonder much was incremental and how much was step function improvements.

      I would hope that there are fewer pit stop fires and crew injuries now compared to then.

      The modern pit crew clip shows that sometimes it’s better to have less “efficiency” and better flow.

      I am fascinated by hospitals and their assumptions that their current staffing levels are safe. They assume they can reduce. I wonder sometimes if the way to reduce total system cost would be to increase staffing, at least as a short term countermeasure.

      People in healthcare do often don’t have time to do their work. Sure, we should reduce waste to free up time but that’s not always enough.

  3. This video is really awesome. As a car guy and a retired racer, i can tell you that races are won or lost in the pits. It takes a surprising amount of effort to make just seconds up on the track, so every second in the pits is costly.

    This is a dramatic illustration of years of progress in time and motion studies to eliminate waste from the process. Full coordination and flawless execution. Love it.


      • Hey Mark,

        From what I could see the 1950’s pitstop was 2 tires and fuel, whereas the modern pitstop was 4 tires and no fuel. Not quite apples to apples, but impressive all the same.

        • Thanks, Kurt. That helps. So the modern pitstop was actually more work content delivered in a faster time.

          I bet it’s a combination of teamwork, # of people, training, practice, coordination, and technology/tools that all adds up to that big difference. But, it’s clearly not all technology nor is it just about better tools…

          • Agreed, a combination of things, lead by a repeatable, coordinated process facilitated by technology and tools. I bet with a fuel cell charge added to the pit stop they also serve the driver a latte. Its all about load balancing so no hands are left idle.

            That being said, it does not looks like the driver was doing anything during that whole cycle. Looks like a wasted resource and an opportunity for improvement!

  4. Such a great video. The flow and efficiency part is amazing, but I was struck by the tools they used as well! Watching the “jack guy” in the 50’s video jumping up and down on the lever to lift the front end, and the “wheel guy” hammering away on what I assume was some kind of wing nut really hit home. Too often we ask people to jump up and down and find a bigger hammer…..

  5. I came across this entry as I was searching for material to write part of some course material for a Lean course, specifically looking at the process of incremental improvement, small % every year.

    This is excellent but we can extend the analogy to Lean IT with processes and tools being streamlined towards the ultimate goal.

    Currently the time is around 2.5 and in fact they don’t want to go faster to avoid penalties as a result of unsafe releases or making a human error and delaying the pit stop. THey feel it cannot evolve because they are on the edges of human performance :)

  6. I discovered this video as I prepared to deliver a course on Changeover Reduction. Very informative, especially when you see the comparison of what happened in the 1950’s to what happens today.

    The video definitely shows what is possible and can help class participants list the items that make the changeover more efficient. Helps them to think out of the box to what is possible.


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