F1 »

McLaren confident gearbox problem won't re-occur

McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe is confident that the problem that sidelined Lewis Hamilton in Singapore has been rectified ahead of this weekend's Japanese GP.
McLaren has said that it is confident that it has solved the gearbox problem that sidelined Lewis Hamilton - and threatened to stop team-mate Jenson Button - in the Singapore Grand Prix.

Hamilton was on his way to a third win in four races when the gearbox on his MP4-27 gave up the ghost, handing victory to title rival Sebastian Vettel and promoting team-mate Button and points leader Fernando Alonso to second and third. The team later revealed, however, that Button's second place could easily have been lost as well, as a similar problem was found with the gearbox on the #3 machine, resulting in a post-race change that leaves the 2009 world champion with a five-place grid penalty for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix.

Discovery of the problem on Button's car has now allowed the team to understand the cause of Hamilton's retirement, which the rumour mill had initially linked to Hamilton brushing the wall on his qualifying run on Saturday, and technical director Paddy Lowe is confident that there will be no repeat of the issue.

"It was a quality problem that unfortunately affected both of those gearboxes," he told ESPN, "It was the same on both cars, just more extreme in Lewis's case - and obviously terminal. Jenson was, to be honest, lucky to finish and the gearbox was not in a good state at the end, which is why we've had to change it. But we completely understand [the problem] now and it won't crop up again, [as] it had affected a certain batch."

Lowe admitted that he was not surprised to see so many gearbox issues in modern F1, given the short lead time on new designs each season.

"It's very difficult, as you can appreciate, to build a new gearbox each year in a very limited amount of time, type approve it to run five races uninterrupted and, in our case, committing to that across two teams," he explained, noting McLaren's technical commitment to Force India, "It's a big pressure on the system.

"With the engine, they're doing a similar thing in terms of endurance but, with the design, it's far more stable. That engine has been running for over five years now but, [with] the gearbox, we are doing a new one every winter. It's tough. What is making it tough these days in F1 is the programme demand and the timing in relation to the high endurance that is needed. It's quite an unforgiving set of rules in relation to penalties."

Having retired in Singapore, Hamilton will not be hit with a penalty for changing his gearbox prior to Suzuka this weekend.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Paddy Lowe (GBR) McLaren Engineering Director
23.09.2012 - Race, Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-27
23.09.2012 - Podium: winner Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8, 2nd Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-27
22.09.2012 - Qualyfing, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-27
22.09.2012 - Free practice 3, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-27
23.09.2012 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-27
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
(L to R): Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren with Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren.
Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren Honda and Fernando Alonso (ESP), McLaren Honda 
(L to R): Eric Boullier (FRA) McLaren Racing Director and Frederic Vasseur (FRA) Renault Sport F1 Team Racing Director in the FIA Press Conference.
The FIA Press Conference (from back row (L to R)): Robert Fernley (GBR) Sahara Force India F1 Team Deputy Team Principal; Eric Boullier (FRA) McLaren Racing Director; Frederic Vasseur (FRA) Renault Sport F1 Team Racing Director; Monisha Kaltenborn (AUT) Sauber Team Principal; Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal; Claire Williams (GBR) Williams Deputy Team Principal. 
Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MP4-31.
26.08.2016. Free Practice 2
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid.
26.08.2016. Free Practice 2
Lewis Hamilton (GBR), Mercedes AMG F1 Team 
26.08.2016. Free Practice 2
Lewis Hamilton (GBR), Mercedes AMG F1 Team 
Fernando Alonso (ESP), McLaren Honda 
26.08.2016. Free Practice 2
26.08.2016 - Free Practice 1, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
26.08.2016 - Free Practice 1, Jenson Button (GBR)  McLaren Honda MP4-31

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.

Leon - Unregistered

October 06, 2012 4:36 AM

The FIA need to rethink the penalties involved for changing a gearbox or engine due a technical failure. Why penalise the driver?? To me that's grossly unfair. Rather penalise the TEAM by deducting points from the constructors championship. This will allow the drivers championship to remain unaffected, whilst penalising those responsible.

© 1999 - 2016 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.