McLaren: New technology for faster pit stops

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D he last three Grand Prix were a disappointment for McLaren. Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button brought together 20 points from Bahrain, Spain and Monaco. It's not just problems with the car and tire management. McLaren's pit stops are also not world champion-like.

Almost every race broke down. But even with perfect tire changes, time fell by the wayside compared to the competition. In the sum of all stops, McLaren is only in the lower midfield.

Wheel nut now part of the rim

Now the racing team from Woking has upgraded in the pits. The equipment and processes have been revised. The greatest advancement are rims in which the wheel nut is part of the wheel. Mercedes made this trick socially acceptable last year. It has been adapted from the DTM. Red Bull upgraded immediately. Ferrari at the beginning of this season.

So now McLaren too. In two stages. In Monte Carlo only the rear wheels were fitted with this arrangement. In Montreal the range is complete. This eliminates the need to put the wheel nut on the wheel hub. And the danger that the mechanic could lose the wheel nut when he set down the impact wrench. The new wheel nut also sticks to the new wheel.

It is part of the bike because it changes to a freewheel when you start hammering. The design takes three tenths of a second compared to the conventional system. If everything goes right. As everywhere in life, there is a flip side of the coin. Michael Schumacher felt it in Shanghai. If the wheel nut jams, the mechanic notices it too late.

In most cases, he has already given the command that everything is in order. For the traffic light this means: free travel. 'There is no going back then,' explains Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn. With the conventional system, the mechanic feels that the wheel nut is jammed. Then he cannot remove his impact wrench.

New impact wrenches, new jacks

With the rims and wheel nuts, the sockets of the impact wrenches at McLaren have changed. The integrated wheel nuts require a tailor-made counterpart. And the front jack is also a new design. He swivels to the side.

The mechanic in front can jump out of the line of fire while the vehicle is still jacked up. 'So the traffic light system can be more aggressivebecause you don't have to worry about the mechanic being run over, 'says a McLaren man. The jack brings another tenth. A total of 0.4 seconds per stop thanks to progress through technology.

New processes for the pit stop

With the new equipment, the processes also change: at a normal stop, the traffic light automatically turns green as soon as the last of the four mechanics on the wheels uses the impact wrench For this purpose, McLaren has positioned its two chief mechanics with a kind of remote control in two places of the car. One in front, the other to the left of the car on the garage side of the pit lane.

These two gentlemen concentrate exclusively on Whether there is any other work to do besides changing tires, for example changing the nose, cleaning the radiator, adjusting the front wing flaps - in this case the mechanic presses 'Hold' and only lets go when the appropriate one Additional work is finished in his field of vision.

And then there is the famous seventh man who does nothing but watch out for the traffic in the pit lane. He too has his finger on the hold button. If there is no car at a point 30 meters in front of the McLaren box, the traffic control gives the green light.

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