McLaren’s technical director James Key has admitted the team had been left confused by their early brake problems.
McLaren have endured a difficult couple of weeks with the brake issue first rearing its head during the Bahrain test, before a disappointing outing in the opening race of the 2022 season at the same venue.
Lando Norris finished P15, his lowest place since the 2020 Russian Grand Prix, while Daniel Ricciardo failed to escape Q1 and ended Sunday narrowly ahead of his team-mate in P14.
Key explained that the mass overhaul in regulations for the 2022 season had thrown up problems they did not expect, and that they were discovering that things tested in simulations did not always correlate to on-track performance.
“I think, in a way, it demonstrates how fresh these cars are and how much there is still to learn about how to get them right,” he told reporters.
“I think the brake duct thing was a really strange anomaly in that it passed every criteria we had for cooling, yet didn’t work.
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) March 21, 2022
“You think: ‘well what the hell’s going on there?’ So you research it and you realise there’s a certain condition, which was shown by this circuit, where it just sort of switched off basically internally.”
Having discovered the issue during the Bahrain test, Key praised the team for coming up with a solution at speed.
“The guys did a fantastic job in recognising the problem very quickly,” he said.
“Coming up with solutions from an aerodynamic perspective, in terms of a duct flow perspective, getting it into design and then a massive push in production to get it here.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had to do something like that, so it was an excellent reaction from the team.
“But it was also a bit of a lesson learned. I think it shows that not all methodologies that we’ve trusted in the past necessarily carry across to something so different here.”
The team is now working to have the brake issue fully solved ahead of the second round in Saudi Arabia, but team principal Andreas Seidl admitted they were still not sure what parts would be on the flight to Jeddah.
“The team is working obviously hard to bring new parts to the track now,” he said.
“But we’re still working on exactly what comes to the track next week for Jeddah and then the race afterwards in Melbourne.”