Martin Whitmarsh has acknowledged that the mechanic whose 'human error' led to Jenson Button's premature retirement from the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix has been left 'devastated' by his oversight – as the McLaren-Mercedes team principal admitted that it is 'hard to accept' such things happening.
Defending F1 World Champion Button – world championship leader heading into the Monte Carlo weekend – was forced out of contention on only lap three in the glamorous Principality, when his engine blew as the result of a mechanic having left a cooling cover over his left radiator inlet, thereby inadvertently restricting airflow.
With the field running around slowly behind the safety car brought out for Williams rookie Nico Hülkenberg's early crash inside the tunnel, the Mercedes engine in the British star's MP4-25 duly began to overheat – and before long, the 30-year-old found himself helplessly taking an early bath, and with it relinquishing his advantage in the chase for the coveted crown to Red Bull Racing duo Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.
“I think it's disappointing for everyone in the team, and devastating for the person responsible,” the Woking-based outfit's team principal Whitmarsh told SPEEDTV.com
. “I know these things happen, but it's just hard to accept when it happens. Anyone who's involved with a team like this, when you're trying to do your best and you make a mistake and it contributes to something like that, it's devastating for them.
“It was something that's used in transport or the garage; it's a cooling cover, a water one, and it was left in, so the car went to the grid with no airflow. The car was cooked. You do what you can after, but you can't recover it. On a circuit like [Monaco], and with a safety car as well, you really can't recover from that sort of thing.
“These cars don't have fans – they rely on airflow – so if you deny the airflow, you're not going to live very long. An F1 engine dissipates 200kW of heat energy, and if you don't take the measures to do something about that, then it's over very quickly, unfortunately. You don't know what's going to fail, but we knew we were over temperature, and there's not much you can do at that point.
“Obviously people are monitoring temperatures, and at a race like that it's particularly critical anyway. Other parts under the engine cover would have been very, very hot, and it was a secondary failure rather than a primary failure of the engine.”