Whitmarsh facing electronics headache

Free Press Series: Martin Whitmarsh was forced to defend the electronics arm of the McLaren Group following the Australian Grand Prix Martin Whitmarsh was forced to defend the electronics arm of the McLaren Group following the Australian Grand Prix

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has promised to investigate a gripe from Red Bull rival Christian Horner that added to his weekend of woe in Australia.

As if dealing with problems with his team's own car was not enough, Whitmarsh was forced to defend the electronics arm of the McLaren Group in the wake of Horner's accusatory finger-pointing. Horner blamed McLaren's electronic control unit (ECU) for the latest poor start made by Mark Webber in Sunday's grand prix at Albert Park in Melbourne.

"Mark's problems were hugely frustrating because it was an ECU issue that is obviously supplied by a third party - I'll let you guess who that is!" said Horner. "So we lost all telemetry on the formation lap, so we couldn't do the preparation you need to for the start. It totally messed it up, so he (Webber) and the engineers were completely blind."

He added: "The ECU issue also shut down KERS, so by the time we had reset the whole system, it lost Mark the start and early ground. It's something they (McLaren) need to get on top of because there were a lot of issues during testing."

McLaren Electronics Systems (MES), a subsidiary of the McLaren Group, has provided standard ECUs for all teams in Formula One over the past few years.

With a new upgraded system in place for this year, teams encountered issues with it during testing, with Red Bull and Webber caught out by the gremlins moments before the race began.

Whitmarsh conceded to being "distressed" upon hearing the news when approached by Press Association Sport, and he said: "We'll put our hands up if it's a fault that's derived from the hardware or the BIOS (basic input-output system).

"You can also inflict ECU problems on yourself by how you set it up, but I will look into it. I'll be disappointed if it is our fault because in F1, NASCAR and IndyCar, we've not yet stopped a car, and we're very proud of that record."

Despite conceding the old system was "bulletproof", MES decided to change the ECU for this year ahead of the introduction of the new-for-2014 energy recovery system and change in engine regulations.

Whitmarsh concedes it has "been a slog and it's not perfect at the moment", but believes the right decision was taken.

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