Sam Michael thinks 2-second pitstops are possible

Sam Michael thinks two-second pitstops will be possible before too long.

The Australian, ousted as Williams’ technical director last year before moving across to McLaren as sporting director, took a lot of criticism for his new employer’s pitstop problems in 2012. But things have come good for Michael, presiding over two-and-a-half second stationary tyre pitstops at more recent grands prix.

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport reports that McLaren practiced pitstops no less than 800 times prior to the British grand prix and were then “clearly the fastest (pit crew) at Silverstone”.

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were in the pitlane for just 99.401 seconds during their home race, compared with 100.805 seconds for Ferrari and 101.181 seconds for Red Bull.

“Our target is an average stationary time of 2.5 seconds by the end of the year,” said Michael.

And then, for 2013, “I think two seconds is not unrealistic,” he added.


Whitmarsh: Finger-pointing at Sam Michael premature

Martin Whitmarsh has backed McLaren’s under-fire sporting director Sam Michael.

Australian Michael joined the team this year after being ousted at Williams, at the end of that famous British team’s worst season in memory. Some have linked McLaren’s repeated tactical and pitstop errors with Michael’s arrival, but boss Whitmarsh insists that, in fact, some of the team’s recent pitstops have been the fastest in history.

Telegraph journalist Tom Cary said that is “like saying you have scored the most beautiful goal in (soccer) but let in five at the other end”.

Whitmarsh, however, said 41-year-old Michael has time.

“He’s doing a good job,” said the Briton. “I think if we’re not the best race team in the world this time next year the fingers can be pointed a bit more strongly”.

Actually, rounding on Michael could have been a way for Whitmarsh to lift some of the pressure on his own shoulders. Not since taking over from Ron Dennis for 2009 has McLaren won a title.

But Whitmarsh insisted that “I can say to you, honestly, that I don’t feel I have a monkey on my back but when – and I stress when – we win the championship I might reflect differently.”

Rumours persist that it may never happen under his reign.

“Ron and I have an interesting relationship,” he said when asked about Dennis, who has been an increasing presence at recent races. “It’s not always a positive one. And if there’s one person who wants to be team principal it’s him. But there is no pressure from Ron whatsoever. No pressure from outside really,” Whitmarsh said.

“Ultimately the pressure is from inside me. I’m very aware of the fact that it’s the 50th anniversary of the team next year and there have only ever been four team principals — Bruce (McLaren), Teddy Mayer, Ron and myself.”


Q and A: Sam Michael

Sam MichaelWilliams Technical Director Sam Michael looks ahead to next week’s European Grand Prix, and gives his take on the demands of the new Valencia street circuit.

Q. How do the team prepare the cars for a new circuit when it’s such an unknown quantity?
A. Car set-up is selected based on the downforce level and the average corner speed. This is arrived at through mapping the circuit and then using that data to run it through a lap simulation programme.

Q. What preparations do the drivers undertake?
A. Drivers work with their engineers to understand what the circuit will require. They may then use the simulator to drive the circuit if the circuit map is available prior to the event.

Q. Are you given any technical information about the track by the circuit organisers in advance to assist with preparations? If so, what do you know already about either track?
A. We re only given limited data, such as a plan view circuit map. Sometimes we re given cad data so we can then create a more accurate map back at the factory. Additionally, Bridgestone are normally given access in advance in order to measure the track s abrasiveness so they can pre-select the correct tyre compound.

Q. How will the team cope with the logistics of a night race?
A. An interesting question, but one that we will only be able to answer properly after we have completed the Singapore race weekend. The most taxing aspect will be doing de-briefs at 1.30 in the morning! Perhaps staying on a European time zone will help, providing one can sleep the following morning!

Q. Will the drivers have to undergo any specific preparations for racing at night?
A. Not, not really.

Q. How hard will it be for the drivers to adapt to racing at night?
A. During the opening stages of the race weekend, they may have to drive conservatively if it is difficult to judge braking points, but it shouldn t be too much of a problem.

Q. Have you personally, or anyone within the team, visited either Valencia or Singapore to check out the circuit?
A. Our Team Manager, Tim Newton, has been to both circuits to check everything looks ok.

Source: AT&T Williams