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

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McLaren Formula 1 team principal Andreas Seidl has blamed a “communications problem” for the disastrous double-stack pitstop that cost Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris time at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Ricciardo ran ninth between the two Alfa Romeos, with Norris 13th, 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 backstretch, making it a logical decision to call the two up.

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Prior to VSC activation, they were 6.4 seconds apart. This meant there was more than enough time to complete the double-stack pit stop, with clear and decisive communications with the drivers from the pit wall.

Ricciardo’s stop lasted about four seconds longer than it should have, thanks to a slow change to the front right wheel.

Pit crews have three people on each corner, one operating the wheelgun with one to remove the wheel and another to place the new one on the hub. It appears that communication problems caused the crew member responsible for removing the right front tire to arrive late for reasons that are unclear.

This meant that the wheel had to be removed by the crew member who was about to put on the replacement. Once they did, the colleague arrived and was able to remove the wheel for them to allow the new wheel to be put on.

It took time, while thanks to the precise choreography replaced by improvisation, it also took a little longer to get the wheel attached. The time lost allowed Ricciardo to return to 12th behind the AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda, whom he should have beaten.

“It was a late call and that’s why it was a bit disjointed,” Ricciardo said of his pit stop.

“It was only when I was walking away that I went to look in my mirror [to see] if there was another car and I saw Lando, then we doubled up.

“I guess it’s probably not a well-polished race.”

Meanwhile, Norris has arrived. As Ricciardo unexpectedly blocked the pitbox, he had to slow down until he was crawling, meaning he had already lost several seconds by the time he stopped on his marks.

But there were problems with the tyres. The left front was quickly changed to a new bracket, but this was incorrect and it was then removed to allow a new hard tire to be fitted.

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The right front was again a problem, the tire for this corner having arrived even later and the change completed after the other three tires had been changed. It meant a long wait for Norris before he was released.

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

In total, Norris spent just over 19 seconds longer in the pit lane than he should have. He therefore joined the 18th and last of the riders, just behind the Williams driver Nicholas Latifi.

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

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

“On the operational side during the pit stop, we had a communication problem which eventually snowballed into this problem that we saw. We have to analyze that and come back stronger.

Asked by The Race to elaborate on the issue, Seidl declined and promised an internal review.

Motor racing Formula 1 World Championship Canadian Grand Prix Race Day Montreal, Canada

“I don’t want to go into too much detail because it’s something we have to look at internally as a team, which didn’t work out there,” Seidl said.

“As I said before, it was ultimately because of a communication problem within the team, and that’s what caused the delay.”

McLaren have been working hard to improve their pitstops after what Seidl admitted to be a ‘weakness’ in 2020. In general, their pitstops have been reliable over the past 18 months, but what happened in Canada showed how a miscommunication can, as Seidl said, snowball into a major waste of time.

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