Real reason F1 teams say ‘box, box’ instead of telling drivers to ‘pit stop’

F1 drivers having instructions screamed at them over team radio has become a familiar sound for avid watchers of the sport.

Instructions on race strategy, or lack of in Ferrari's case, as well as pit stop instructions or congratulatory messages have long become part and parcel of tv coverage. Even the most regular watchers still admit to some confusion though, when hearing the likes of Christian Horner and Toto Wolff shouting 'box, box' at Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and co.

It doesn't take a genius to work out that it's actually an instruction for a driver to make a pit stop, but the reason for the terminology is less than clear. Amid much debate, two explanations have emerged to help followers of the sport understand.

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The obvious reason would be that the rectangle that features in front of a driver’s garage is called their pit box, but it's actually more technical than that. The word is said to be easier to use for swift communication purposes.

When the team need a driver to come in, they say "box" as opposed to "pit" because it is clearer and more distinctive over a radio to a driver who is also contending with the noice that accompanies speeding around in an F1 car. The instruction is often shouted twice, even thrice, in case of transmission briefly cutting out.

But there is a second theory that actually relates to Germany. The direct translation for the term 'pit stop' is 'boxenstop', with many fans believing the order is just a play on the word that would be second nature to many F1 stars from over the years, least of all seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher.

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The increased tv focus on communication between drivers and team engineers has been viewed as a crucial to advancing modern day coverage. It also forms an integral part of the ongoing Netflix Formula 1: Drive to Survive coverage, that is credited with attracting a younger audience to the sport.

Indeed, radio messaging provided one of the most iconic moments of the opening weekend of the 2023 season in Bahrain. On his way to a third placed finish, Fernando Alonso overtook Carlos Sainz in the closing laps.

And the iconic Spaniard then jubilantly remarked over radio: "YES! Bye bye." Later speaking to his team over the radio after crossing the line, he said: "What you have done guys, what you have done? I am so proud of you."


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