2012 F1 season
McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale says his team is unsure why the FIA objected to Red Bull’s exhaust maps at the German Grand Prix.
Speaking in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in Neale said: “None of us really know what it is that antagonised the FIA so much to provoke Jo Bauer into issuing the note he did on Sunday morning.
“It was quite an unusual step but I don’t think the FIA would have referred it to the stewards if they didn’t have very serious concerns.
“I’ve read the press like you have and there are lots of allusions to the fact that there might be some action taken to stop it from happening.
“And it’s really not for us to know, it’s impossible for us to tell exactly what the Renault engine is doing in the Red Bull and therefore how much of an advantage they get from it on their car – it’s an integrated performance package. I know we’re not the only ones on the grid who are looking at it very carefully.
“I think that we’ve all worked really hard through the first six months of this year to work with the FIA and with Charlie [Whiting] to get it clear what’s acceptable and what isn’t. I’ve pledged that support again to Charlie, I think Charlie and the FIA have got a difficult job there.”
Neale added he doesn’t want the situation to turn into a repeat of the row at Silverstone last year, when new rules on exhausts were introduced then rescinded after one race: “I hope we don’t get into lots of rewriting the exhaust regulations mid-season as we did last year.
“That provided a reasonable amount of upset – not matter how entertaining it was for the press or the media at Silverstone last year – in terms of us, the teams in the sport, I think consistency in the regulations is good. I think we need to put a lot more effort into enforcing the regulations instead of continually rewriting them.”
Development race “will be very strong”
Neale said McLaren were “very pleased” with the upgrade introduced at the Hockenheimring: “Everything that we took on Friday stayed on the car.
“I think that in the dry weather we were pleased. The race pace enabled Jenson [Button] to stay in touch with the Red Bull and the Ferrari.
“So on that day on that circuit in those conditions I think we’re there or thereabouts. I don’t think we are dominant but we need to keep pushing and working very hard. But yes, we’re pleased with it.”
Neale added that, based on the data seen in Germany, there’s nothing to choose between the top three teams at present:
“We believe we’ve got a competitive car. We’ve been focusing a lot on our race pace because our qualifying pace has been stronger than our race pace. And we believe that both drivers have got a good chance of being very competitive and hopefully one of them can win this weekend.
“But it’s a very close grid as you all know. Notwithstanding whether the teams are able to exploit the conditions and the tyres, you don’t need to bring very much in order to change the competitive order, nobody at this stage is going to be backing out and diverting to next year or the year after.
“I think we’re in for a very challenging race in Hungary and I suspect the rate of development will be very strong throughout August until the middle of September. But I don’t think it’s static. The three top teams have got very competitive cars.”
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Image © McLaren/Hoch Zwei