McLaren play down technical glitch
Martin Whitmarsh says there are no signs to suggest that the technical problem that ground Lewis Hamilton's car to a halt were engine or gearbox related.
Last Updated: 12/05/12 4:15pm
Martin Whitmarsh has played down the technical problem that ground Lewis Hamilton's car to a halt just seconds after the Briton claimed a brilliant pole position in Spain.
Hamilton was in a class of his own throughout the qualifying hour at the Circuit de Catalunya and ultimately claimed his third pole of 2012 by a massive 0.578 seconds margin from surprise package Pastor Maldonado, as several of his title rivals endured tricky sessions.
However, almost immediately Hamilton was told over the radio by his race engineer to park his MP4-27 up by the side of the track - prompting concern over the seriousness of the problem ahead of Sunday's race.
Asked about the issue McLaren chief Whitmarsh told Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz: "[It was] a technical problem.
"I don't know, we're just going to have a look at that - hopefully it's nothing too serious. But a problem arose and we had to turn off [the car]."
Whitmarsh, however, immediately ruled out the possibility that the problem was either engine or gearbox related, any changes to which after qualifying would trigger automatic five-place grid penalties.
Asked if there was any early signs that one of those two core systems could be at fault, Whitmarsh said: "No there isn't. So we won't have that [a penalty]."
With concerns over tyre usage dominating the build up to qualifying, Q3 in particular turned into a cat-and-mouse game as most of the top 10 waited to see whether or not their rivals would complete a timed lap.
Hamilton, however, made clear his intentions clear right from the start by laying down an earlier marker for pole, which he then beat in the closing seconds, and afterwards Whitmarsh said: "We wanted to go for it. To be on the front row is always a good feeling and a pole like that is what we aim to be.
"Lewis did a great job."
And asked by Ted if the fact Hamilton had used another two sets of soft tyres to claim pole could come back to haunt him, Whitmarsh replied: "Lewis has got two new prime tyres and we did some great runs long on prime tyres [in practice] and I think probably tomorrow the prime is going to be the tyre of choice. So I think we will be okay there."
McLaren's delight at claiming the 150th pole of their illustrious history was however tempered by the fact Jenson Button surprisingly dropped out in Q2, the 2009 World Champion to start 11th after again struggling with his MP4-27's handling.
Whitmarsh conceded that Button's plight underlined the difficulty all teams continued to face in getting their cars' tyres into the right operating window.
"It was a difficult session, we saw obviously Jenson, Mark Webber not getting through and just missing the cut in Q2 which just shows, one, how competitive Formula 1 is at the moment but, two, how difficult it is with tyres and if you don't get it right [with] tyres, temperatures, pressures you fall out of that window," he added.
"So that's a challenge."