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What went wrong at McLaren’s double-stack Canadian GP stop

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McLaren Formula 1 team principal Andreas Seidl blamed a “communication problem” for the disastrous pit stop that cost Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris time at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Ricciardo was running ninth between the two Alfa Romeos, with Norris 13, when Mick Schumacher parked his Haas at Turn 3 on lap 20 after suffering a power unit problem. The virtual safety car was deployed while the McLaren pair were on the back straight, so it was a logical decision to call both.

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Before the VSC was activated, they were separated by 6.4 s. This meant there was more than enough time to complete the double-stack pit stop, with communications to the drivers from the pitwall clear and decisive.

Ricciardo’s stop was around four seconds longer than it should have been, thanks to a slow shift of the right front wheel.

Pit crews have three people at each corner, one operating the wheel gun with one to remove the wheel and one to put the new one into the hub. It appears that communication issues caused the crew member responsible for removing the right front tire to be late for reasons that are unclear.

This meant that the crew member about to fit the replacement had to remove the wheel. Once this was done, the mate arrived and was able to remove the wheel from them to allow the new wheel to be put on.

This cost time, while thanks to precise choreography being replaced by improvisation, it also took a bit longer to get the wheel on. Lost time meant Ricciardo rejoined 12th behind Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri, which he should have been ahead of.

“It was a late call and so it was a bit rudimentary,” Ricciardo said of his pit stop.

“It was just when I was starting up, I went to look at myself in the mirror [to see] if there was another car and I saw Lando, then we double stacked.

“I guess it’s probably not going to be a very polished race.”

While this was going on, Norris arrived. As Ricciardo was unexpectedly blocking the pitbox, he had to slow down to a crawl, meaning he had already lost several seconds by the time he stopped in his lap.

But there were problems with the tires. The left front was quickly changed to a new medium but this was incorrect and was subsequently removed to allow a new hard tire to be fitted.

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The front right was again a problem as the tire for that corner came even later and the change was completed after the other three tires had been changed. That meant a long wait for Norris before he was released.

While the exact nature of the communication problem is unclear, what is obvious is that it resulted in not only Norris being blocked by Ricciardo, but the correct set of tires not being ready for his pit stop.

In total, Norris spent a little over 19 seconds longer in the pitlane than he should have. Therefore, he rejoined 18th and last among the runners, just behind Williams driver Nicholas Latifi.

Ricciardo finished 11th, with Norris 15th for McLaren’s third white of the 2022 season.

“Obviously it was a disappointing day for us,” Seidl said. “A disappointing weekend for a number of reasons: reliability issues, operational issues in the race, but also in terms of our pace and where we want to be.

“On the operational side during the pit stop, we had a communication problem that ultimately snowballed into this problem that we have seen. We need to analyze that and come back stronger.”

Asked by The Race to explain the problem, Seidl refused, promising an internal review.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Canadian Grand Prix Race Day Montreal Canada

“I don’t want to go into too much detail because that’s something we have to look at internally as a team, what went wrong there,” Seidl said.

“As I said before, in the end it was due to a communication problem within the team, and that was causing the delay.

McLaren made a significant effort to improve its pit stops after what Seidl admitted was a “weakness” in 2020. Its pit stops have generally been reliable over the last 18 months, but what happened in Canada showed how a problem Communications can, as Seidl said, snowball into a significant waste of time.

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