Not content with supposedly fixing the outcome of the Monaco Grand Prix via team orders, potentially integrating Ferrari developed parts into the new MP4-22 via a leaked document and having the two drivers at the front of the title chase squabbling in Hungary, McLaren are once again in the news for the wrong reasons. This time around it centres around a new lightweight gearbox the team ran in Hungary. The issue? According to the stewards, the new box was not crash-tested prior to its running during the race. Meetings are currently taking place in Monza to see if anything should be done about it.
Some people are saying that the gear box in question did not require a new test because the crash structure from the old box was in place and had been previously approved by the FIA. However, the rules clearly state that “any significant modification introduced into any of the structures tested shall require that part to pass a further test.” Talk about a grey area!?
According to Autosport, the issue came to light in Turkey two weeks ago as the team reverted back to their old gear box while the new one was in the process of passing the crash test. It is also said that McLaren did not hide the fact they were racing with new and improved box on the back of their cars.
McLaren would like to emphasise that we have acted in entirely openly, in good faith and in complete compliance with the FIA rules and we are confident that the stewards will come to the same finding.
On Thursday of the Hungarian Grand Prix, McLaren voluntarily made the FIA aware that the team would be using a new reduced weight gearbox casing.
Before qualifying the FIA asked McLaren to supply after the race weekend some documentation concerning the precise changes that had been made.
This was supplied before the Turkish Grand Prix, but subsequently McLaren was advised by the FIA that in their opinion the revised gearbox needed to undergo a repeat crash test. As a result the team chose not to use the lightweight gearbox at the Turkish Grand Prix.
On 30th August the McLaren lightweight gearbox passed both a push off test and an impact crash test without any problem under the supervision of the FIA. Consequently the team will use the lightweight gearbox at the Italian Grand Prix.
McLaren Press Release.
Autosport also helpfully point out that repercussions on the team would be hard to define. When the Benetton and Williams teams got caught up in the illegal fuel controversy back in 1995, they lost their constructors points from the race. However, McLaren have already had their constructors points deducted (appeal pending) due to Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton playing around in the Hungarian pitstops.