In motorsports, a pit stop is where a racing vehicle stops in the pits during a race for refuelling, new tires, repairs, mechanical adjustments, a driver change, or any combination of the above. Not all are allowed in all formulae.
The pits usually comprise a pit lane which runs parallel to the start/finish straight and is connected at each end to the main track, and a row of garages (usually one per team) outside which the work is done. Pit stop work is carried out by anywhere from five to twenty mechanics (also called a pit crew), depending on the series regulations, while the driver waits in the vehicle (except where a driver change is involved).
Depending on the circuit, the garage may be located on pit lane or in a separate area. Most North American circuits feature a pit lane with number of pit stalls (typically 30-50) and a pit wall which separates the pit lane from the infield, with the garages (if used) on a separate road in the infield. In races where there are different series racing together, each series has its own separate garage or are parked in their own area. Circuits in other areas (used in F1) typically have the individual garage stalls open directly onto the pit lane through the team's assigned pit stall. In American English, it is common to drop the definite article and just refer to "pit road", whereas in British English one would always refer to "the pit lane".
By making pit stops cars can carry less fuel, and therefore be lighter and faster, and use softer tires that wear faster but provide more grip. Teams usually plan for each of their cars to pit following a planned schedule, the number of stops determined by the fuel capacity of the car, tire lifespan, and tradeoff of time lost in the pits versus how much time may be gained on the race track through the benefits of pit stops. Choosing the optimum pit strategy of how many stops to make and when to make them is crucial in having a successful race. It is also important for teams to take competitors' strategies into account when planning pit stops, to avoid being "held up" behind other cars. An unscheduled or extended stop, such as for a repair, can be very costly for a driver's chance of success, because while the car is stopped for service, cars remaining on the track can rapidly gain distance on the stopped car.
In most series (except NASCAR), pit assignments may be assigned by points standings, race results, or previous qualifying results before the start of the race meet. In NASCAR and in INDYCAR's Indianapolis 500, typically pit assignments are made after qualifying, with the fastest qualifiers choosing their pit stall first.
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