Whitmarsh disappointed by F-duct ban

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Martin Whitmarsh said he was “sad” the teams had decided to ban the F-duct for the 2011 season, a technology his team had pioneered.

Speaking in the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in he said:

Inevitably the teams have got to consider range of technologies. The way in which FOTA works is we all have to make compromises.

Historically Formula 1 has had veto rights allowing a team to block virtually any change. That was attractive when you were defending your technology but you’ve got to be practical about it. It made it quite difficult for the sport to evolve in an age of the various challenges we have.

If you then accept a 70% voting majority on issues then you have to be bound by those decisions. From time to time there will be decisions you are less happy with. Overall I think this procedure is the right one.

Turning to the F-flap we’re very proud of the bright guys who thought of it. There’s lots of reasons why it’s good for the sport, it doesn’t have a high entry cost, it just needs a bit of ingenuity.

So personally I’m a little bit sad about that but we’ll continue to develop in that area for the rest of the season. I think some of the other teams are working quite hard in that area.
Martin Whitmarsh

Whitmarsh also revealed he supported splitting the qualifying session at Monaco – something three-quarters of F1 Fanatic readers said they opposed:

I think Q1 in Monaco will be very, very difficult and I think it’s difficult for all of the cars. We have to accept at the moment there are six cars out there and it’s very difficult to avoid them.

They’re in the order of six to seven seconds slower and even in terms of trying to open a gap with cars behind you, you can’t back off. It’s a circuit at which you’re very likely to catch cars and a circuit at which it’s very difficult for those cars to get out of the way, even if they want to.

So for the slower cars they’ll do a lap, presumably staring in their mirrors which I’m sure is distracting for them, even if they see something in their mirrors trying to respond to that will be very difficult, even if they’re on a slow lap.

By choice I would advocate that we had divided it up somehow either by splitting the field in half so you reduce he number of cars that have to fight for space on a very tight track.

Or you could have a session where, perhaps unkindly, the six slower cars were going to fight it out among themselves. They could have had the first five minutes, albeit then they would have missed the track evolution. But it would have been the same for all of them and they could have decided on their order of merit before the other guys went on the track.

It’s always been difficult but with more cars and a greater performance differential I think there will be controversy. There are those, and I’m not one of them, who feel that controversy and stewards’ hearings after the event are entertaining. I don’t share that view but that’s what some people think.
Martin Whitmarsh

Read more: Should Monaco qualifying be split? (Poll)

Whitmarsh is optimistic McLaren will continue their strong form at Monaco regardless of what the weather does this weekend:

I think if you ask drivers they’ll rather have a dry Monaco – it’s a pretty tight and scary place even without rain. But I think our drivers are pretty good in the rain.

Monaco is a unique circuit. We’ve got two drivers who are good there. McLaren has won Monaco 15 times, many more than any other team, and we’ll try to make it 16, whether it’s wet or dry or any combination.

The first corner at the bottom of the hill on the first lap is always a heart-stopping moment for all of us. The cars change in terms of balance and performance from qualifying to the race.

They will have 160 kilos [of fuel], cold-ish brakes and tyres heading into the first corner and that’s going to be very challenging. The really, really good drivers will manage it, some others will find it beyond their capability.
Martin Whitmarsh

He paid tribute to both his drivers, saying they each deserved to have scored more points in the season so far:

I think Lewis and Jenson have both driven brilliantly this year. They’ve had a bit of misfortune and both could have got better results than they have had.

Jenson has made some very good calls and has two wins to his name and leads the championship at the moment.

Lewis has driven just outstandingly. He had 32 competitive overtakes in the first four races which is unprecedented. Some of that is down to his brilliance and some of that is because of circumstances where he had to come through the field.

Clearly he had a fantastically deserved second place not quite achieved at the weekend. Had he had that I’m sure he would be slightly more content.
Martin Whitmarsh

Hamilton wasn’t the only driver to suffer technical problems in Spain as Whitmarsh explained:

In Jenson’s case there was failure in the steering wheel which took out his dash. The functionality of the knobs, switches and levers on the wheel was fine. That happened quite early and a check from the system showed that apart from the display everything was working.

But it robbed the driver of the means of being told when to shift, the display of gears and other information.

When you’re behind another car your shift points change when you’re in the tow, you don’t have the lights telling you when you’ve got to adjust.

In terms of the pit stop this is what caused Jenson to come out behind Schumacher, otherwise he would have been in front.

He had no display to help him through pit stop sequence including revs. The car was then sat at slightly too high revs causing a little bit of clutch drag and spinning of the rear wheels. So in fact the crew did very well to cope with that and to make the wheel change.

The stop was delayed but through no fault of driver or pit crew. In light of that Jenson would have been in front of Michael were in not for the pit stop.
Martin Whitmarsh

With five races gone McLaren are leading both championship but Whitmarsh said the team are wary of the threat posed by other teams:

We go into the sixth race of the season with Jenson leading the championship and we’re leading the constructors’. But Red Bull have looked very strong in qualifying and Ferrari and Mercedes are quick as well.

It’s exactly as Formula 1 should be. It’s very, very difficult to win races and it’s a big challenge to win the world championship. That’s what we’re trying to do and both of our drivers have driven brilliantly and both of them deserve to have amassed slightly more points than they have so far.
Martin Whitmarsh

Read more: Whitmarsh: Rim failure put Hamilton out