Adrian Newey Q&A

McLaren's luck went from one extreme to the other in the Austrian GP on Sunday. A poor qualifying session was followed by the team's third startline disaster of the year, after Mika Hakkinen's problem in Brazil and David Coulthard's drama in Spain. But while the Finn was out of contention straight away, DC did a tremendous job to recover the situation for his team and score what could prove to be one of the most significant victories of his career. He's now clearly ahead of his team mate and in a position to push Michael Schumacher as the title race develops over the next few races. McLaren technical guru Adrian Newey gave us his thoughts on the race

Adrian Newey Q&A

"I think it was what we didn't do in qualifying that was more of a problem. We got it wrong in qualifying mainly with the tyre mix. A few of the Bridgestone runners, us included, used scrubbed fronts and new rears. We just got the combination wrong."

"It was a little bit more than that."

"It was a human to systems interface problem. I think, how can I put this, really it comes down to the system not being operated correctly. But that's not to criticise Mika in any way, but perhaps it's too complicated. It's tempting to say Mika made a mistake, but..."


"No, David's wasn't human error. He made a slight procedural error, but the system should have coped with that, and it didn't, and that was due to a bug in the software basically. In the example today the system had no chance to cope with it."

"It's a bit like saying can you change gear without pushing the clutch on a manual car? One of the things is that by the time a racing driver gets to F1 and does a normal start, he's been practising for years. Here we're talking about only the second start with these systems. OK, obviously everybody's practised it in test sessions, but it's the old thing - in the heat of the moment, it's completely different."

"I think it obviously shows the newness of the systems for the moment. Teams and drivers between them haven't got totally on top of them. Doubtless now there'll be cries that it's too dangerous, and there could have been a startline accident. That's true, but equally there could have been a startline accident if somebody had stalled it with the old strategy, so I don't think you can simply say that this is a farce, and do something different. I wouldn't be surprised if there are no such examples in the next race."

"No. I can't comment on other people, but not in our case."

"Because the problem caused the clutch to melt."

"A recovery system can only work if nothing has been mechanically damaged. In this case something was mechanically damaged, so the recovery system had no chance."

"No, I think Mika's very good at keeping himself motivated. He's very disappointed with his current position, but I think the hallmark of any great sportsman is to be able to put that behind them and just look forward."

"We don't know whether other people were filled or not. Presumably Arrows went for two stops because they don't have the capacity for one, so fair enough."

"It's a difficult call, I think. I wouldn't like to comment on that. One of the problems always is that yes you can argue it's the right thing for the championship perhaps, but I think it should be a human sport, and simply sacrificing one driver for the other, I think you can argue about the ethics of that. And also you do end up if you're not very careful with one driver completely demotivated, thinking why should I bother?"

"No it didn't. The Melbourne '98 one was a straight misunderstanding. I feel fairly comfortable with Melbourne, but Jerez '97 I can't really comment on, because I wasn't involved in it. People love to say that Mika is favoured in the team, but I honestly don't believe that's the case."

"I think his side of the garage has been strengthened compared to last year. We've obviously tried to keep the strength in Mika's side as well, so I don't think it's to the detriment of Mika's side."

"It's still only six races, isn't it? David's obviously doing a good job, but we've got a long way to go."

"We'll dedicate the victory in Paul's memory and name. What can I say? It was a sad loss for Ilmor and McLaren, and tragic for the family. He was a nice guy."

Coulthard Seeks Qualifying Improvements
Previous article

Coulthard Seeks Qualifying Improvements

Next article

Ron Dennis Q&A

Ron Dennis Q&A
Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return Plus

Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return

He has more starts without a podium than anyone else in Formula 1 world championship history, but Nico Hulkenberg is back for one more shot with Haas. After spending three years on the sidelines, the revitalised German is aiming to prove to his new team what the F1 grid has been missing

The potential-laden F1 car that Ferrari neglected Plus

The potential-laden F1 car that Ferrari neglected

The late Mauro Forghieri played a key role in Ferrari’s mid-1960s turnaround, says STUART CODLING, and his pretty, intricate 1512 was among the most evocative cars of the 1.5-litre era. But a victim of priorities as Formula 1 was deemed less lucrative than success in sportscars, its true potential was never seen in period

Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss Plus

Why Vasseur relishes 'feeling the pressure' as Ferrari's F1 boss

OPINION: Fred Vasseur has spent only a few weeks as team principal for the Ferrari Formula 1 team, but is already intent on taking the Scuderia back to the very top. And despite it being arguably the most demanding job in motorsport, the Frenchman is relishing the challenge

Formula 1
Jan 27, 2023
The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023 Plus

The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023

Changes to the regulations for season two of Formula 1's ground-effects era aim to smooth out last year’s troubles and shut down loopholes. But what areas have been targeted, and what impact will this have?

Formula 1
Jan 26, 2023
Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history? Plus

Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history?

Who are the quickest drivers in Formula 1 history? LUKE SMITH asked a jury of experienced and international panel of experts and F1 insiders. Some of them have worked closely with F1’s fastest-ever drivers – so who better to vote on our all-time top 50? We’re talking all-out speed here rather than size of trophy cabinet, so the results may surprise you…

Formula 1
Jan 25, 2023
One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1 Plus

One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1

OPINION: During what is traditionally a very quiet time of year in the Formula 1 news cycle, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been generating headlines. He’s been commenting on massive topics in a championship that loves them, but also addressing necessary smaller changes too. Here we suggest a further refinement that would be a big boon to fans

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
How can McLaren keep hold of Norris? Plus

How can McLaren keep hold of Norris?

Lando Norris is no longer the young cheeky-chappy at McLaren; he’s now the established ace. And F1's big guns will come calling if the team can’t give him a competitive car. Here's what the team needs to do to retain its prize asset

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
What difference did F1's fastest pitstops of 2022 make? Plus

What difference did F1's fastest pitstops of 2022 make?

While a quick pitstop can make all the difference to the outcome of a Formula 1 race, most team managers say consistency is more important than pure speed. MATT KEW analyses the fastest pitstops from last season to see which ones – if any – made a genuine impact

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2023