McLaren under media fire
Press stunned by team's qualifying mistake
Last Updated: 13/05/12 8:28am
The British media have reacted with incredulity to the mistake by the McLaren team that saw Lewis Hamilton stripped of pole position for the Spanish GP on Saturday night.
With race stewards in Barcelona rejecting the team's defence that Hamilton's car had been under-fuelled due to a 'force majeure' and relegating the driver to the back of the grid, the Woking outfit have been forced to endure scathing criticism across the backpages.
Describing the error as a 'betrayal', The Mail on Sunday thunders: 'This was another crisis in a season of many difficulties, mostly self-inflicted. After a catalogue of mistakes this season, this latest embarrassment will be hard to absorb. At the Grand Prix in Bahrain, a McLaren mechanic was replaced mid-race after twice botching pit-stops for Hamilton in his role as wheel-gun man.
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'Having previously seriously compromised Hamilton's team-mate Jenson Button's race a week earlier in China, the team were determined to improve their drill after an inquest. But they stumbled, amateurishly, into a catastrophe of their own design.'
According to Sky Sports F1's Mark Hughes, writing in The Sunday Times, McLaren's latest gaffe means Hamilton's relationship with the team is now being 'tested to the limit'. Ominous words given that Hamilton's current contract expires at the end of the season.
Hughes also shed some light on how the error occurred, explaining:
Hamilton loses Pole
'A tap on the team's refuelling device was initially moved the wrong way by a mechanic, meaning the fuel was being sucked out rather than pumped in. Upon realising his error, he switched the tap to the correct setting, but with the seconds counting down to give Hamilton enough time to do the out-lap and begin his flying lap, the car was released with insufficient fuel.'
Elsewhere, The Sunday Mirror rages that McLaren's 'season of blunders' is 'crumbling', while The Sunday Telegraph adds their 'horrendous' mistake 'is bound to lead to renewed speculation regarding Hamilton's future.'
There is, however, a lone snippet of support for the beleaguered team with The Independent on Sunday's David Tremayne questioning the severity of Hamilton's punishment:
'One might have expected Hamilton's best lap time to be cancelled, and his next best to count, which would have left him sixth on the grid. But he received the ultimate penalty for an error that had nothing to do with him, was excluded from the times altogether and will start from the back of grid. Welcome to the draconian world of F1.'