McLaren’s bad day at office

Two-goal hero: Andy Gascoigne fends off a challenge from Romulus' Walker.   picture: BARRY RICHARDSON
Two-goal hero: Andy Gascoigne fends off a challenge from Romulus' Walker. picture: BARRY RICHARDSON
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McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh was left to put a consoling arm around one member of his team in the wake of what he described as a “classic bad day at the office”.

After asserting following last Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix that mistakes needed to be limited in order to win the championship in a highly competitive season, errors again undid McLaren in Bahrain.

Sadly, for one unnamed team member especially, it has been a wretched two races to forget, which resulted in him beating himself up and being asked to step aside for Lewis Hamilton’s final pit stop.

In China last week, Jenson Button was denied a shot at victory by a slow final change of tyres as the left wheel nut cross-threaded at the first time of asking.

Yesterday, at Hamilton’s first stop, the drive pegs failed to align, again at the left rear, a fault Whitmarsh claims was not of the gunman’s making.

Fourteen laps later, another cross-thread with the same wheel delayed Hamilton, forcing Whitmarsh to make the change.

So from second on the grid, Hamilton was forced to settle for eighth, ultimately losing his championship lead to Red Bull race winner Sebastian Vettel who took the chequered flag for the 22nd time in his career.

“Any guy who volunteers to be a gunman in a team is a brave guy,” said Whitmarsh.

“These guys are mechanics who don’t get paid extra for doing it, who put themselves in the firing line and under an enormous amount of pressure.

“I’ve been speaking to him just now because I know how hard he is being on himself. I’m very protective of my staff because they deserve my protection.

“He’s taken it very badly, but I’ve given him the reassurance and support of this team. All of us, from team principal down, make mistakes from time to time.