The race car pulls up between the white placement marks on the pit lane as I lug over the refueling hose that weighs as much and writhes like a giant boa constrictor as I struggle to fit the nozzle onto the car's fuel adapter.
A light on the hose indicates that the car has received its preprogrammed dose, and I yank, yank, and yank again as the nozzle fails to detach from the car.
Any hope for the team to score points in the race is now gone, and it is all my fault, for instead of taking the usual eight to 14 seconds, I extended the refueling part alone to over a minute. Fortunately, it was just a practice pit stop in the build up to the last race. Like all Formula One teams, this one will be practicing again Friday in preparation for the race on Sunday.
"The best part of the pit stop," said Cristiano Da Matta, a driver at Toyota, "is when you leave the pits, and nothing bad happened."
For the members of the pit crew it is the chance to claim some of the racing excitement and glory.
"It's the buzz of our weekend," said one of the Jordan team's regular refuelers. But refueling was stopped in Formula One in the pit stops finally and in 2012 the pit stops are more for tire changes and wing and other adjustments.
Like the other pit crew members Gomme has another job in the team garage: he is a spare parts coordinator. It takes two men to manipulate the hose at all stops and he was chosen because of his brute strength.
In the hierarchical series of Formula One where the richest teams with the best engineers, engine manufacturers and equipment win the most races the pit stop is the one place where all teams start on an equal footing.
The difference comes from the manpower and teamwork achieved through practice and technique and race strategy is affected.
"The only determining factor is the bloke putting the nozzle on the car and pulling it off," said Dave O'Neill, who was once the head of the Jordan team's test team, who has performed just about every role on the pit crew.
The rules of the sport stipulate that all teams must have the same refueling machine, furnished by the French company Intertechnique, which supplies refueling machines to the civil and military aviation industry. The hose is a standard aviation industry hose. Much of the rest of the pit-stop equipment is also the same, including the fuel hose adapter on the car and the pneumatic guns used to remove wheel nuts.
Unlike other racing series such as the U.S.-based CART series, where a pit crew is limited to six in Formula One there is no limit to the number of crew.
Teams use up to 24 people, each with a task involving varying degrees of responsibility, from operating the wheel gun to removing the wheel or putting it on, to cleaning the driver's helmet visor, bolting on or adjusting a front wing or clearing out the radiators. One man uses a jack at the front, another jacks the car up at the back. Choreographing the whole ballet is the chief mechanic, or the "lollipop man," who holds up a sign at the front of the car signaling the driver when to stop and when to go. O'Neill said that is the hardest job.
"You've got to look within six seconds to make sure that 24 people have finished doing what they're meant to do and then be looking up the pit lane to make sure no cars are coming down before you release the car and let it go," O'Neill said.
The practice sessions are more strenuous and tiring than the race although during practice, the refuelers are not obliged to wear the visored helmets and fireproof suits that can be so unpleasant when the weather is hot.
The team practices pit stops 60 times over a race weekend, rehearsing all eventualities, such as running back into the garage to exchange one set of tires for another in case a wrong pair are put on the car. It also practices putting out fires.
There have been only three fires of note since refueling was reintroduced in 1994, after a period without from the late-1980's. The last was at the Austrian Grand Prix in May 2003, on Michael Schumacher's Ferrari. The German's pit crew began dowsing the car with extinguishers within three seconds, enabling Schumacher to remain so cool that he just drove off and won the race.
The most serious fire was at the German Grand Prix in Hockenheim in 1994. Jos Verstappen, Schumacher's teammate at the time with Benetton, was engulfed in flames and five mechanics and the driver suffered minor burns.
"You don't know what's happening at the time," recalled Verstappen, who now races for the Minardi team. "The only worrying thing is, you can't breathe. And it's very hot."
That fire was caused by human error after someone on the team removed a washer in the nozzle of the refueling hose.
Da Matta, who said that he thought Toyota was one of the fastest teams in the pits, thinks human error in Formula One is less likely than in CART because of the larger crews.
"In CART it's one man for each wheel and the room for a mistake for that guy doing the job is a lot bigger," he said.
Fires aren't the only risk. Pit-crew members are sometimes run over. Nigel Stepney, Ferrari's chief mechanic and lollipop man, was hit by Schumacher at the Spanish Grand Prix in 2000.
But for crew men, the race always comes first. There can also be financial rewards. At Jordan, everyone on the team, from the person who sweeps up in the factory to the technical director, receives a bonus of l30, or $47.60, for each point the team wins.
The speed and efficiency of the pit stops so impressed the British military that it called on Formula One teams to help instruct it on devising a system to refuel its Apache helicopters more quickly. At the British Grand Prix in July, Brigadier Richard Folkes, the director of Army Aviation, said the project had cut the time it took to rearm and refuel a helicopter by 50 percent, effectively allow the helicopters to be more efficient in battle like a Formula One car.