McLaren make changes to pit crew

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh has confirmed changes have been made to the pit crew in light of recent mistakes.

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh has confirmed changes have been made to the pit crew in light of recent mistakes.

Errors in the last two races in China and Bahrain, in particular by the man operating the left-rear wheel gun, have cost Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button points.

In Shanghai, Button was denied a shot at victory by a slow final change of tyres as the left wheel nut cross-threaded at the first time of asking.

A week later in Bahrain, Hamilton encountered two issues with his left-rear wheel, after the second of which Whitmarsh replaced the mechanic operating the gun for the last stop.

Whitmarsh was forced to console the man concerned after the race as he admitted he had taken the situation “very badly”.

Following an internal review of their pit-stop procedures during the recent mini-break that included last week’s test in Mugello, further alterations have been made ahead of this weekend’s Spanish grand prix in Barcelona.

Whitmarsh said: “We’ve looked at what we are doing and have made some changes to the team and the process and we’ll see them on Sunday in Barcelona – or you may see them on the earlier days if you are interested enough to watch pit-stop practice.

“There’s enormous pressure on the guys. At a team like McLaren you are targeting a sub three-second stop.

“It’s a huge physical challenge. If you’ve held a wheel gun it’s really heavy and it’s not an easy task.

“It’s being done on some very hot components with the eyes of hundreds of millions bearing down on your back.

“So I am always in awe of the level of the volunteers we have, but we have made some changes as you might expect following the last race.

“I wondered whether we’d have volunteers for some of the more critical elements, but I was astounded by how many guys in the team wanted to put themselves in that very challenging position.

“It reflects well on the spirit of the team. There’s since been a reasonable amount of practice and we’ll see at the weekend. I believe we’ll have good stops.”

Fernando Alonso being welcomed home by his Spanish fans

The two errors in Bahrain resulted in Hamilton finishing eighth and losing his lead of the championship to Red Bull’s reigning champion Sebastian Vettel, who holds a four-point advantage.

With four different winners of the four races to date, Hamilton is naturally itching to make it five in five, a feat achieved just three times in F1 history.

Last season’s runner-up to Vettel said: “Our performance at Barcelona during winter testing looked promising.

“But the form of the season is still very hard to read, so it’s difficult to predict who’ll be at the front this weekend.

“Nonetheless, we had a great race there last year. I pushed Sebastian all the way to the finish.

“I think we have a comparatively stronger car this year, so I hope we can have another strong race.”

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