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Upgrades come to nothing: problems for McLaren, Sauber and Williams

Upgrades come to nothing
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D he hopes were high. After a messed up season opener, McLaren wanted to get back to the top. Sauber and Williams had their sights set on Force India, the front runner in midfield. The development departments have put up a lot of steam for this.

McLaren converted half the car: front wing, rear wing, side pods, underbody, cooling, rear axle. Williams also brought large cargo boxes to Barcelona. The front and rear wings, the underbody runner and the rear panel are new. Sauber had modified the underbody and the rear wing.

Too little time for testing

The three problem children would have everyone Used kilometers, but Peter thwarted them. You could write off the first 70 minutes of the first training session. The wet runway did not even allow a reasonable data acquisition. 'The pitot tubes were full of water. There was nothing to measure,' said McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh.

Thus McLaren, Sauber and Williams were forced to unwind almost the entire program in the second 90 minutes . That was obviously not enough. The problems that had ruined the season opener were still there. 'Just different,' groaned Jenson Button.

Clean progress not measurable

The watch knows no mercy. McLaren was 1.498 seconds behind the fastest time in 12th and 13th. Williams was 2.080 seconds behind Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull. The previous year's winners landed in 14th and 16th. The gap was even greater at Sauber. Nico H├╝lkenberg said of the 2.359 second gap: 'That's too much.' He was in 15th place, his team-mate Esteban Gutierrez in 17th place. The restlessness when turning has disappeared. 'The car is now relatively stable. We just lack grip,' regretted H├╝lkenberg. Since the tire temperature was in the green, only one conclusion remains: The Sauber C32 lacks downforce.

The problems at Williams have also shifted. The nervousness at the corner entrance is gone. The pilots praised the new, toxic turning behavior. But from the apex of the curve the misery begins. First the blue cars fall into understeer, then the rear swings abruptly at the corner exit. Valtteri Bottas copes better with these driving characteristics than Pastor Maldonado.

McLaren tires were too cold

McLaren came acrossalso on no green branch. 'We don't get any temperatures in the tires,' complained one engineer. That sounded similar at the start of the season in Melbourne and can only mean that the McLaren are once again tuned too hard to keep the top aerodynamics in the optimal window.

The press release is silent about the problems. Whitmarsh praises instead the production department, which made the impossible possible in long day and night shifts. Rarely has an upgrade been so extensive. But seldom has it achieved so little. 'We need more time to test the new parts. We still have a lot of work to do,' says Button down.


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