Jonathan Neale, McLaren’s Managing Director, has responded to comments made by Gary Anderson who slammed the Woking based team for taking so long to repair Jenson Button’s car during practice for this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.
Responding to Anderson, Neale concluded that the ex-Jordan and Stewart Grand Prix Technical Director (from 1991 to 2003) was out of touch with today’s F1 cars, which are more complicated and time-consuming to work on given how integrated and tightly packed their systems are in comparison with previous generations.
“You have to go back to FP1,” Neale explained. “As Jenson came out of the last corner on his final run he felt he had a lot of wheel spin, which turned out to be clutch slip.”
“After getting the car into the garage and taking it apart we found oil contamination of the clutch which causes the plates to slip. Clearly it was something we had to address. The oil was coming from the gearbox through one of the seals, which we would routinely change.”
“But the problem these days, if you take a modern gearbox on a Formula One car, they, and the powertrain in particular, are so integrated now. The packaging is so extreme that to take off a gearbox and put it on again routinely takes, on average up and down the grid, an hour and three quarters.”
“Bear in mind to even start a Formula One car from a laptop from cold these days takes an hour and a half. So it’s not as trivial as some might have you believe.”
Neale also revealed that the team had actually completed two gearbox changes – a second issue was found once the engine was started after the initial gearbox change.
“So we changed the seal in between FP1 and FP2, got the car back together, got the floor on, fired it up and discovered we then had a secondary issue which wasn’t knowable prior to that event,” Neale continued.
“So it all had to come off again and we had to do two gearbox changes. There wasn’t time to delve into the root cause, so we changed the back end of the car, which was another hour and three quarters.”