Martin Whitmarsh: “There’s a lot of pressure nowadays”

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.”

6 Comments

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6 responses to “Martin Whitmarsh: “There’s a lot of pressure nowadays”

  1. John

    No excuses Mac, Bad stratergy calls and shit pitstops are Ruining races Ferrari are nailing 3 sec stops. Even LH’s last stop was 5+ secs.

  2. chris green

    A lot of motor racing teams use a system where the wheel nut is captive in the wheel. This is to save time and and to prevent nuts falling on the ground or rolling away. Problem is the system seems prone to failure. I’ve seen it so many times. Sometimes the tangs that hold the nut shear or the nut crossthreads. All the problems of the old type systems still apply. i.e sheared hub pegs and nuts that won’t release or tighten properly due to issues with the wheel guns. I guarantee that a wheel change issue will effect at least one team in every GP.

  3. Whitmarsh is right to support this man. Hopefully, this does not spoil his career in F1. You have to respect all of the mechanics that work under so much pressure and most of the time they get it spot on so people forget that they’re human.

  4. Shirleen Riffe

    Pretty sure if you read the artice carefuly Martin is saying that the gun man was NOT responsible for the problem, but in fact ity was a mechanical failure. He is saying how he tried to comfort the man because even if he knows it’s not his fault he still feels terrible. The one piece unit was used in all of 2011 by Mercedes and it was almost flawless. They had the best overall time of the season. Other teams have copied it this year with varying degrees of success.

  5. Stone the Crows

    Whitmarsh is defending his man because he did nothing wrong but do what he was asked to do. BTW the rumour is flying that Button was retired so that he could get a no penalty gearbox change for the next race.

    • Michael C

      Hats off to Martin for doing it. He is not without pressure himself! in a sport often full of bulls… and stupid ego’s it’s nice to see a defence like this

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