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Thursday, June 28, 2012

McLaren's Sam Michael feels the heat

Poor Sam.  I've never had anything but the greatest of respect for the guy and my only criticism of him was that perhaps he wasn't ready for the role of Tech Director at Williams, a position that he had to relinquish last year on top of Williams worst ever season.

Having left Williams he rejoined McLaren as Sporting Director and now the twitter world are pointing fingers at him as a Jonah, due to the miserable performances of McLaren in the Pitlane this season.  The Telegraph journalist Tom Cary wrote the following on June 24th:

While the team’s stops have undoubtedly got faster as the season has progressed, the errors are still costing their drivers vital points. Michael was the target of numerous tweets from irate race fans during and after the race.
"Can somebody please tell me how Sam Michael still has a job at McLaren?" went one typical post. "I thought he was brought in to improve the team including pit stops."
Michael said before the Valencia race he was confident McLaren had found a solution to the problems.
"Pit stops are definitely better," he said. "What we’ve done is work a lot on equipment, and also the people. We brought a lot of things like retained wheel nuts, quick release jacks, a traffic light system, so really we’ve been on an upward curve on equipment to get it right. We’ve changed a lot of people around as well.
"We’ve been fixed now for the last three races. We think we can average here sub 3 sec, which is better than any other team in the pit lane."
Its worth pointing out that McLaren did do a sub 3 second pitstop in Valencia, but then there was the failure of the quick release jack which ultimately put paid to Hamilton's race, as Eddie Jordan correctly pointed out afterwards that if it hadn't been for that error Lewis would have been clear of Alonso and would never have gotten caught by Maldonado.

Is is Sam Michael's fault?  I don't know the inner workings of the McLaren pitcrew and I've ask  Marc Priestly for his opinion given his connection to the team.  He's said that "ultimately" Sam is responsible but that there's a long answer to this one which he'll deal with in his blog later. You can get to his blog through the above link to check it out.

I'm afraid I have to give the last work on this to Pitflaps on twitter: 

When I see Sam Michael at Mclaren I conjure up a picture of Frank Williams in his wheelchair stroking a white cat, chuckling to himself

Unfortunately Sam that one was too humorous to let pass