I was reminded of a unique pit crew experience the other day and it’s how the stopwatch can tell the pit crew –without radio communications and TV coverage—of something that’s gone wrong. Drivers tend to lap pretty consistently. There’s never more than a second or two’s difference between lap times. So the pit crew has a good idea when the driver will be coming back around. The tension rises for the pit crew when the car doesn’t appear on time. There's a moment of panic because it’s impossible to know what's happened. So the stopwatch becomes the guide.
If a car is five seconds late, something’s happened. Time to worry.
If a car is ten seconds late, possible engine problem.
If a car is twenty seconds late, it’s a spin and recovery.
If a car is a minute late, there's a big problem.
If a car is two minutes late, it’s time to wait for the recovery vehicle, because the car isn't making it back under its own power.
It’s amazing what the passage of time, even just a few seconds, can tell you. :-)