At the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya this afternoon, it was a Grand Prix to forget for the McLaren-Honda F1 Team.
Fernando Alonso retired with a rear brake problem on Lap 26. His race ended during a precautionary pit-stop – to examine the rear end and change tyres – which resulted in the car losing stopping power and ploughing on through the box. Fortunately, the quick wits of McLaren’s front-jack man saw him leap to safety, and no-one was injured. Fernando’s steady progress into the top 10 came to an end, however.
While the team will thoroughly trace the cause, the mechanics discovered a tear-off visor covering the right-rear brake duct when they investigated the car’s rear corner in the garage.
While his team mate Jenson Button made it to the finish, he too endured a disappointing race to sixteenth place. Button made a slow getaway and quickly reported that his car was handling poorly, oversteering and wheel-spinning under power.
Button commented after the race today that his car was very scary to drive today and that he couldn’t predict what the MP4/30 was going to behave. But Button feels that even though his engineers tried to help him during the course of the race; they will look and analyse the data from this weekend in order to resolve these issues as quickly as possible.
“My car was pretty scary to drive today: as soon as I touched the throttle, it just snapped away from me, “ said Button. “It was unpredictable: in low-speed corners, the car was just slow, because I got wheel-spin immediately; in the high-speed stuff, it was just scary, because the rear end would snap away immediately under power.
“I was talking to my engineers for most of the race to try to find out what the root of the problem was, and we switched on quite a lot of handling balance changes to try to cure it. It got a little bit better towards the end of the afternoon, but it was a pretty tough afternoon.
“Now, we’ll thoroughly look at the data and see what the matter was – it’s something we’ve got to look into.”
His team mate Alonso also had a scary race especially after the pit stop that was lucky not to hurt anyone. Alonso has reported that it was a brake failure that caused this issue and despite these problems, he believes that the team will investigate the issues, resolve them as quickly as they occurred and hopefully move forward with their performance in Monaco in a few weeks time.
“My pit stop was a scary moment – I didn’t have much rear braking for my whole in-lap, then even less at the stop, “ said Alonso. “It was scary for the mechanics, but luckily it didn’t hurt anyone.
“My brake issue was separate from Jenson’s problem yesterday; in qualifying, he had a single disc that wasn’t reaching temperature, but I had no brakes. I think the rear disc stopped working, so I only had front brakes.
“Things are coming together. We’re still a long way off the front and need to take bigger steps, but this is a very challenging project and I’m happy that we’re recovering well.
“This has been a disappointing day, but the team will investigate what happened, and we’ll come back stronger in Monaco.”