12 May 2013
McLaren couldn't check new wing before practice
McLaren took the decision not to risk failing scrutineering with its new front wing after being unable to check it was legal.
Martin Whitmarsh has defended McLaren's decision to rush two new front wings to Barcelona, despite the possibility neither could be used for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.
The wings were not part of the upgrade package initially brought to the Circuit de Catalunya for the opening European race of 2013, but were flown from Woking overnight on Friday after the development parts failed to have the desired effect of moving Jenson Button and Sergio Perez closer to the pace of their expected rivals at Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes.
Although the new wings arrived in time for Saturday morning's final hour of practice, neither made it onto the MP4-28 after the team decided that they may not pass the mandatory FIA scrutineering checks. Already under fire for the team's poor start to 2013, Whitmarsh defended the decision to fly the parts to Spain, amid explanations of why they weren't used.
"In fairness to the FIA, they have got no obligation to make [the testing equipment] available to us early on a Saturday morning," he reasoned to reporters in Barcelona, "But that was the chance that we took.
"The tolerancing was sufficiently close that we took a view that this was something we would have to check [but], without that check, it wasn't prudent to go forward with those wings."
Struggling to make its development upgrade work, McLaren managed to scrape Perez into the top ten shoot-out, the Mexican eventually taking eighth on the grid after a penalty for Felipe Massa, while Button managed only 14th. Both drivers have already ruled themselves out of the championship battle after being disappointed not to take a step forward in Barcelona.
"I think you'll find, whether you're Caterham or Ferrari or McLaren, you'll see people queuing down at what's known as the 'bridge of doom' and it's ultimately those tests that go on there that determine whether the car is legal or not. We, and other teams, test components before they [come] here. The tolerance on stiffness, on dimensions, is very, very tight and so everyone – and I can assure you everyone does their own tests - tests these critical issues on the FIA equipment. If you can't do that, and given the very small tolerances, then you've got inherent risk."
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