Newey: No blame on Mika or system for non-start

McLaren technical director Adrian Newey says there was no technical problem with the launch control system on Mika Hakkinen's car in the Austrian Grand Prix, but has stressed that the Finn shouldn't be blamed for the error that left him stranded on the grid at the A1-Ring

Newey: No blame on Mika or system for non-start

Driver aids such as launch and traction control were legally re-introduced just two races ago and have already caused several problems, especially at starts. As well as Hakkinen, three other cars failed to clear the grid in Austria, while his McLaren team mate David Coulthard was left standing at the start of the formation lap of the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks earlier and was forced to start from the back of the grid.

Newey said: "It was a human to systems interface problem. I think, how can I put this, that really it comes down to the system not being operated correctly. 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..."

Newey also described Coulthard's Barcelona problem as a "procedural error", but again diverted any blame from his driver.

"No, David's wasn't human error," he said. "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 (in Austria) the system had no chance to cope with it.

"I think it obviously shows the newness of the systems for the moment," he added. "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 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."

Meanwhile, Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn says that differences between the surface of the pitlane and the pit straight at the A1-Ring may have accounted for Michael Schumacher's tardy start at the Austrian Grand Prix.

"What happened (at the A1-Ring) was strange," said Brawn. "Everyone practices starts in the pitlane and get used to their systems. The grid was so different from the pitlane, and that's why I think so many people had problems."

Launch control systems are highly complex and tuned using a number of parameters, one of which is the coefficient of friction of the asphalt. At the A1-Ring, the grip afforded by the asphalt on the pitlane exit is said to be significantly different to that on the grid.

"We've got to investigate why (it happened)," Brawn added, "but fundamentally it was a malfunction of the launch control system. The difficulty is that, like everyone, we're gaining more experience. There's something unusual here with the grip levels, which quite clearly affected other people as well."

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