F1 »

Whitmarsh admits mistakes cost McLaren in qualifying

Key decisions over tyres cost McLaren dearly in the delayed qualifying session at Albert Park.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has admitted that a couple of strategic decisions backfired on the Woking squad, conspiring to leave its drivers with work to do in the Australian Grand Prix.

With the second and third phases of the knock-out session carried over to Sunday morning following heavy Saturday rain in Melbourne, both Jenson Button and Sergio Perez were entering the unknown as they attempted to make it through to the pole position shoot-out on a damp but drying track.

The pair were among the first to switch from Pirelli's intermediate tyre to its supersoft 'slick' but, while Button quickly demanded that he revert to the grooved rubber, his new team-mate was not only left to flounder on the red-ringed slick, but was actually fitted with a second set after his first developed a puncture.

Without the necessary grip at all parts of the Albert Park street circuit, Perez was never likely to make it into the top ten 'shoot-out', but Whitmarsh admitted that 15th on the grid is not what the team had envisaged for its new recruit.

"I think we took a risk with Sergio going on to a dry tyre,” the team boss conceded to Sky Sports, “It was a very difficult call, [but] I think clearly sector one, sector two, it was quicker on the dry tyre. Sector three was still struggling on a dry tyre, but we took that risk.

"Unfortunately, there was some issue on that set of tyres – [Perez] thought it was a puncture - so we had to change, and that put us on the back foot. With hindsight, I think we should have switched back to the intermediate tyre, but we didn't. It didn't come off for us, and it means that took [Perez] out of Q3."

With Button back on intermediates in time for a final assault on the timesheets, McLaren secured a place in the top ten – not something it was necessarily expecting after set-up errors left it struggling for pace in free practice – but then got its timing wrong when switching the Briton to slicks in the third and final phase of the session.

The 33-year old three-time Australian GP winner was the first to venture out on the supersoft in Q3, but went too early to be able to get the best from his rubber. Although his first flying lap edged him ahead of Vettel's benchmark, Button was unable to respond when those behind him on track made significant improvements and, despite getting a third lap in before the chequered flag fell, was unable to find any time and had to settle for the outside of row five.

"With Jenson, we decided to go for it on the dry tyre – and the dry tyre was the right thing [to be on] - but we put ourselves on the track and tried to get three laps,” Whitmarsh continued, "Unfortunately, [although] the track clearly got quicker right at the end, the tyres had grained so Jenson wasn't able to realise the potential of the track at that very last critical stage.

"I think, inevitably, if you're not as competitive as you want to be, you take bigger risks, so I think that probably had some influence on it. Decisions that were made in very difficult situations didn't quite come off and made a challenging afternoon for us."

Button, amid suggestions that perhaps he should not have gone out at all in Q3, is reporting that his rear tyres were so badly grained they may not last more than a couple of laps at the start of the race....



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
16.03.2013- Qualifying, Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28
16.03.2013- Qualifying, Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-28
15.03.2013- Martin Whitmarsh (GBR), Chief Executive Officer Mclaren
15.03.2013- Free Practice 1, Martin Whitmarsh (GBR), Chief Executive Officer Mclaren and Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-28
16.03.2013- Qualifying, Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-28
Lando Norris, McLaren Autosport BRDC Awards [Credit: Martyn Pass PR]
Kimi Raikkonen tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Lewis Hamilton tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Daniel Ricciardo tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Kimi Raikkonen tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Pirelli 2017 tyre test [Credit: Pirelli]
27.11.2016 - Race, Jenson Button (GBR)  McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.11.2016 - Race, Jenson Button (GBR)  McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.11.2016 - Race, Marcus Ericsson (SUE) Sauber C34 and Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.11.2016 - Race, Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Renault Sport F1 Team RS16 and Jenson Button (GBR)  McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.11.2016 - Race, Start of the race, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-31 off trach and Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull Racing RB12 spins
27.11.2016 - Race, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.11.2016 - Race, 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.




© 1999 - 2016 Crash Media Group

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