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McLaren Controversy: This Time It’s The Gearbox

McLaren Controversy: This Time It’s The Gearbox

Pedro De La Rosa - Testing The MP4-22Not content with supposedly fixing the outcome of the Monaco Grand Prix via team orders, potentially integrating Ferrari developed parts into the new MP4-22 via a leaked document and having the two drivers at the front of the title chase squabbling in Hungary, McLaren are once again in the news for the wrong reasons. This time around it centres around a new lightweight gearbox the team ran in Hungary. The issue? According to the stewards, the new box was not crash-tested prior to its running during the race. Meetings are currently taking place in Monza to see if anything should be done about it.

Some people are saying that the gear box in question did not require a new test because the crash structure from the old box was in place and had been previously approved by the FIA. However, the rules clearly state that “any significant modification introduced into any of the structures tested shall require that part to pass a further test.” Talk about a grey area!?

According to Autosport, the issue came to light in Turkey two weeks ago as the team reverted back to their old gear box while the new one was in the process of passing the crash test. It is also said that McLaren did not hide the fact they were racing with new and improved box on the back of their cars.

McLaren would like to emphasise that we have acted in entirely openly, in good faith and in complete compliance with the FIA rules and we are confident that the stewards will come to the same finding.

On Thursday of the Hungarian Grand Prix, McLaren voluntarily made the FIA aware that the team would be using a new reduced weight gearbox casing.

Before qualifying the FIA asked McLaren to supply after the race weekend some documentation concerning the precise changes that had been made.

This was supplied before the Turkish Grand Prix, but subsequently McLaren was advised by the FIA that in their opinion the revised gearbox needed to undergo a repeat crash test. As a result the team chose not to use the lightweight gearbox at the Turkish Grand Prix.

On 30th August the McLaren lightweight gearbox passed both a push off test and an impact crash test without any problem under the supervision of the FIA. Consequently the team will use the lightweight gearbox at the Italian Grand Prix.

McLaren Press Release.

Autosport also helpfully point out that repercussions on the team would be hard to define. When the Benetton and Williams teams got caught up in the illegal fuel controversy back in 1995, they lost their constructors points from the race. However, McLaren have already had their constructors points deducted (appeal pending) due to Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton playing around in the Hungarian pitstops.

Formula One, F1, McLaren

Oliver White

4 comments

  • I’m sorry but it begins to sound like an anti-McLaren vendetta. They are not the only team to have fitted a new gearbox this year – Red Bull and Toro Rosso at least have done this. So why was there no fuss when they did it? Does no-one see the irony of McLaren being accused of using team orders at the Monaco GP and then being penalised for not having team orders in Hungary? The term witch hunt springs to mind.

    I am not a McLaren supporter but this season I think they have been picked on by the FIA as the only possible competition for Ferrari. If the governing body want to convince me of their even-handedness, they will have to deliver to Ferrari exactly the same penalty as they seem likely to hand out to McLaren in the reconvened WMSC meeting. Did they not both have employees who indulged in espionage?

  • If McLaren notified the race officials on Thursday, why did the FIA wait until the day of qualifying to request the specs be provided after the weekend? If the FIA was going to take issue with this, they should have told McLaren to supply the data before qualifying.

    I don’t know if I would call this a witch hunt. The FIA can appear to be…capricious (?) at times and have been known to kick a team when they’re down. If this were the only bit unfolding right now I’d say it was pretty typical. But with everything else hitting the fan this week (coincidentally just days before the Italian GP?), I agree, it’s not looking good for McLaren.

  • Hehe, second time lucky my man! 😉

    A good point though, well put. When I read that bit about the data request, it sounded to me as though the FIA are saying to McLaren, “it should have been crash tested, but as it’s a bit grey, we’ll let you off this once. Give us some data, get it tested and we’ll call it quits.”

    Have the FIA stabbed McLaren in the back? If I were a conspiratorial theorist, I would agree that after McLaren’s dominance of the Monza test last week, they are indeed trying to ensure Ferrari get a fair crack at the whip at home and keep themselves in play for the title, trying to bring it down to the wire in Brazil.

    I’m not a conspiratorial theorist though, but it does seem wrong on a couple of levels, as the comments in this post would suggest.

  • We have watched Formula one for some years and we are beginning to realise that decisions made by the FIA are not impartial. If this goes on we don’t think we can take any more. Play the game FIA.

    e and v

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