After Sunday’s Bahrain GP Martin Whitmarsh defended the McLaren mechanic who was most closely involved in the two botched pit stops on Lewis Hamilton’s car, and another with Jenson Button in the previous race in China.
Whitmarsh stressed that it was a high pressure job, and that problems can occur at any time.
“The first one was what we call pegging,” he explained, “where the drive pegs don’t align with the drive holes, which is not something you should blame the operator for. You’ve got to make the system as tolerant to not pegging as possible. The second one was a cross thread, which is what we had at the last race.”
Whitmarsh was keen to defend his left rear gun man: “Firstly you’ve got to say that any guy who volunteers to be a gun man in the team like that is a brave guy. I know how hard he’s being on himself at the moment.
“All on the same axle, on the same side, you can imagine the pressure. These are mechanics, they don’t get paid extra for doing it. They put themselves in the firing line, they put themselves under pressure.
“So naturally I’m very protective of them, because they deserve my protection. They’re brave, they volunteer for it, they try hard, they know the pressure they’re under.”
The man involved was stood down for the team’s final stop on Sunday because he was so upset by events.
“We changed him for the last stop of the race, because he took it very badly. I stress again these guys they don’t get paid [extra] for it, they volunteer to put themselves in that stressful situation. I respect that they are brave enough to do that.
“I’ve spoken to him and I was frankly giving him reassurance and support of this team. I think the drivers know, and all of us from the team principal down make mistakes from time to time. It’s pretty bloody annoying when we do it, we’re more annoyed with ourselves typically than when others make it, we’re often more understanding of other people than we are of our own mistakes.
“It happens, and that’s motor racing. There’s a lot of pressure nowadays with three second stops, as everyone knows that the last gun off is the one that dictates the speed of the change, and if it hasn’t been going well for you, it’s an enormously stressful position you’re in.”
He said that the team would once again review its pit stop operations: “We’ll look at the equipment, we’ll look at the process, we’ll look at the approach. So, disappointing. We weren’t quick enough, we made mistakes, and we had a failure on Jenson’s car. A pretty bad day at the office.”