Crash.Net F1 News

McLaren working to cure ECU gremlins

26 February 2013

McLaren's electronics division has vowed to get on top of problems with the electronic 'brain' that it supplies to all eleven F1 teams ahead of next month's Australian Grand Prix.

Last week's Barcelona group test, like that at Jerez at the start of February, was blighted by concerns that teams could not easily communicate with their cars following the introduction of an upgraded ECU and, while all squads were able to pile on the laps as they developed their new machines, there are worries that the opening rounds of the 2013 season could be influenced by the issues.

McLaren Electronics Systems (MES) has been the sole supplier of standard ECUs to F1 since the spec part was introduced several years ago, but it appears that attempts to improve the unit, and extend its use into next season, when new engine regulations come into force, have caused problems than anticipated.

"There is a new ECU for 2013, replacing the unit that has been running on F1 cars for the past five years,” MES managing director Peter van Manen confirmed to pitpass.com, "This new unit will be used with the V8 engines this year and will go on to control the new powertrains in 2014 and beyond.

"They are complex units and, despite considerable bench and dyno testing during 2012, there are inevitable teething problems that are revealed and need to be resolved during track testing.

"The FIA, the teams, the engine manufacturers and McLaren Electronics Systems are all working together during current pre-season testing to ensure the systems are in good shape for racing in Melbourne."

There is just one further four-day test in which to evaluate the ECUs before cars are shipped to Melbourne for the season-opener over the weekend of 17 March.