Just when you were thinking that it’s been a while a while since McLaren were handed a penalty, Martin Whitmarsh has revealed that the team were called in by the stewards following German Grand Prix qualifying.
This time its offence was apparently to use standard refuelling equipment in an insufficiently standard way. In his Hockenheim debrief, Whitmarsh says the following:
During a busy qualifying session, if you want to accurately deliver a small amount of fuel to the car, it is easier to use a small churn of fuel rather than connecting the regular race refuelling rig.
Article 29.2 of the 2008 Sporting Regulations states that ‘a driver may remain in his car throughout refuelling but, unless an FIA-approved race refuelling system is used, the engine must be stopped’.
We refuelled Heikki’s car during the Q2 session using a churn while his engine was still running but we reasoned – incorrectly, as it happened – that we were operating within the regulations because we were using an approved Intertechnique nozzle to deliver the fuel.
Having discussed the matter with the stewards, we accepted that we were in breach of the Sporting Regulations. Clearly, though, we received no performance advantage from doing this and accepted the stewards’ judgment as totally fair.
(Whitmarsh had a fair bit to say on a number of subjects, including McLaren’s strategy during the race. You can read the whole interview on the team’s website here.)
Interestingly he doesn’t say what the penalty actually was – although the reference to ‘no performance advantage’ and the fact no reference has been made to this before today suggests that Heikki hasn’t had to pay the price on-track.
A fine, perhaps? Looks like it’s time to take that cashpoint card for another visit to the Bank of McLaren.
Or maybe it was a smacked bottom for all concerned…