Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2015

“Scary” race for Button and Alonso at McLaren

2015 Spanish Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2015Both McLaren drivers said the Spanish Grand Prix had been a “scary” experience for them – for different reasons.

Jenson Button was spooked by the handling of his MP4-30 for much of the race on his way to a distant 16th.

“My car was pretty scary to drive today,” he said. “As soon as I touched the throttle, it just snapped away from me.”

“It was unpredictable – in low-speed corners the car was just slow because I got wheel-spin immediately. In the high-speed stuff it was just scary, because the rear end would snap away immediately under power.”

“I was talking to my engineers for most of the race to try to find out what the root of the problem was, and we switched on quite a lot of handling balance changes to try to cure it. It got a little bit better towards the end of the afternoon, but it was a pretty tough afternoon.”

Meanwhile team mate Fernando Alonso suffered a fright of a different kind when he experience a brake failure in the pits.

“My pit stop was a scary moment – I didn’t have much rear braking for my whole in-lap, then even less at the stop,” said Alonso, whose front jack man jumped clear as his car shot past its stopping mark.

“It was scary for the mechanics, but luckily it didn’t hurt anyone,” he added after finishing his race in the pits.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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29 comments on ““Scary” race for Button and Alonso at McLaren”

  1. I was discussing the issue with the jackmen with a friend after Alonso nearly ran over the skillful Ninja they have as jackman at McLaren, and Nigel Mansell tweeted something about it aswell.

    For all the safety changes they make, I think the pit crew is really unprotected. Not only they have to stay clear of any unfastened tyre rolling around the pitlane, but also the chances of fire or crashes between fast approaching cars. And also they have to worry about their team’s car.

    For something that might be the most avoidable incident of all those mentioned, I think it deserves some discussion and improvement. Specially the jackmen. Being standing there ready to be ran over must not be funny.

    Wouldn’t it make a little more sense to wait until the car is stopped to allow the crew to come out of the pitlane? I think NASCAR does that, they jump over the wall after the car stops.

    Or maybe an improved jack. Because that guy in front of the car is really unprotected. The dude at Lotus had no chance to leap out.

    1. I personally like what the le mans cars have with the jacks built in to the cars. They could just have a plastic sign in the place of the jackman to indicate where to stop.

      1. @brownerboy yeah, that’d make the cars heavier because of the system but it’d be a lot safer

    2. “Wouldn’t it make a little more sense to wait until the car is stopped to allow the crew to come out of the pitlane? I think NASCAR does that, they jump over the wall after the car stops.”

      A NASCAR pit crew is allowed to jump over the wall when the car is less then one pit stall before theirs. The gasman is allowed to sit on the wall with his feet on pit road, provided he has a gas can in his hands

    3. A minimum duration pit stop of 10 seconds (standing) would make it safer. Pit crew stay inside until car is stopped, then they come out change tires, and go back in again before timer expires and car goes on it’s way.

      But is this really what we want?

      1. Minumum duration pit stops would ruin pit strategy, doing 1 more stop than other drivers would be a huge loss of time

      2. I don’t think the minimum duration will be popular with anyone; if pit stops are going to be homogenized for all then we may as well do away with them altogether and start drivers with their race tyre and fuel loads with no stops.

        NASCAR style where the team is behind the wall (or in this case, in the garage) until the car is stationary still puts a great deal of emphasis on the crew, in that they still need to get out, change the tyres, and send the car off in a timely fashion. Definitely preferable to minimum-duration stops, and it’s probably as safe as it can get while still having pit stops.

        I suppose the simplest way is even lower pit-lane speed limits (I think it’s 60 mph in Spain?) since this still allows the team to make a difference with the stop itself but lessens the danger of drivers hitting anything else in the pitlane.

        Personally, I’d prefer to keep things as they are; it was a scary moment for the front jack-man, but I feel any changes now would just be knee-jerk reactions without really thinking it through.

        1. NASCAR crews don’t wait until the car is stationary. They wait until the car reaches the previous pit stall and then jump over the wall. A good crew will have some members on the right side of the car before it stops.

        2. More rules to equalise everyone since 2005 has led to huge domination in 2009, 2010 to 2013 and 2014 until now.

          From a safety point of vie jackman not allowed in front until car is stopped?

    4. I really don’t want to hear the voice like ‘It is too dangerous, we should change this, we should change that…’. Refueling, lolipop and now the jackman. Of course I don’t want to see anybody get hurt. But this is F1, there should be unpredictable elements and some times dangers in this game. This is why we don’t see this crews as normal man, but one maybe even more brave than the driver.

      1. @peking901 I’m not calling on banning pit stops, but there’s a degree of danger in the jackman being there which could well be avoided and no one would say it changed the “pit stop game”. It’s not like it’s a fundamental thing in racing either.

        It’s just a measure to avoid certain injuries in case something bad happens. You can delete all the danger in the pitlane but you can minimize it.

  2. A car being potentially dangerous and also quite slow… Hmm… Sounds like the 2011 HRT.

    1. now if you said 2010, we could say the livery is a curse but oh well

  3. pit stop incidents were scary in this race. I think McLaren should have been more cautious in the pits, especially with known brake issues they shouldn’t have let front jack man stand there before car stopped.

  4. apparently it’s been a tear-off visor strip that blocked the cooling system on alonsos brakes. exactly the same thing happened to raikkonen in spa 2013.

    1. @rigi yeah, I was about to comment the same.

      I’m just wondering, wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to tear those visors off and then throw them in the cockpit?! it’s been happening for a while now. I remember Nico Hulkenberg also lost a lot of grip at COTA last year after picking up one of those tear-off visors with one tyre.

      Seems sensible enough to not throw rubbish on a live racetrack…

      1. I have always wondered the same thing, they would virtually add no weight to the car. I have always wondered what would happen if it went into the intake above the drivers head.

        1. Clogged air intake, or worse. There’s a reason you see the drivers try very hard to let it go to the side….

          1. Brakes at over 1000 degrees would a plastic strip not melt after one stop and be no issue? Put a lighter on a plastic bag in the sink nothing left in a few seconds?

      2. unless you are leading ;)

  5. Omar R (@omarr-pepper)
    10th May 2015, 23:26

    @andae23 normally you handle the stats very well. Is this the poorest McLaren start of the season in their history? I guess that’s not the kind of history Ron was planning to make :P

    1. @omarr-pepper I think so, yes. Their previous poorest start was the 1981 season, when they had just one point after five race, courtesy of the late Andrea de Cesaris.

  6. Scary is the disadvantage of being old, especially when you have children.

  7. Overall, quite a disappointing weekend for the Mclarens. They made a slight improvement in qualifying by getting 2 cars into Q2, but they looked to be struggling throughout the race. Jenson was the slowest car bar the Marrussia’s and Alonso was finding it difficult to maintain his position throughout the race.

    Additionally, when you hear Jenson talking about how unstable and ‘scary’ the car was, it just goes to show that Mclaren are in deep deep trouble with their car. Their only realistic shot to become a top 3 team will happen in 2017.

    1. The worst moment to me for them was when Crashdonaldo passed with a broken rear wing… this was the bottom for them and i want to believe thats the lowest they can go and from now there will go up.

  8. It is incredibly sad to see Mclaren struggle like this, it’s like watching an old punch drunk boxer struggling to admit he is no longer the force he was in his prime. Someone needs to get hold of this team and really shake it up, since Boullier arrived there has been decline and confusion and I think maybe even Big Ron is struggling with the new era.

    Even Honda need to take a good look at themselves , they cannot think for one minute that this engine or pu (or whatever they’re called) is acceptable given that they have had easily a year of design and development and supposedly unlimited resources, it seems underpowered, unreliable and worse still undeliverable in the way it delivers the power, according to Sky you cannot feather the throttle – it is either on or off which makes it unpredictable and difficult in the corners. Overall a real disappointment, I am sure they can do something to improve but looks like this year at the very least is a development year.

  9. Is it true? Ron Dennis will leave McLaren at British GP?

    1. Rumor says it is Honda’s decision.

  10. This is worse than the Honda “Earth Dreams” car it seems to be a MClaren / Honda Nightmare Car.

    Is this down to communication problems, do we think? I’m so sorry for Jenson he deserves better.

    Also this is the same track where Alonso had his accident. The car does not appear much safer, does it? These descriptions above, about problems with the car, unpredictable behavior of the car, could have added up to the actual reason for Alonsos’ accident. And little has improved since.

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