McLaren denies reliability crisis

Autosport

McLaren insists it is not amid a reliability crisis, despite Lewis Hamilton's string of problems continuing with his Abu Dhabi Grand Prix retirement.

Hamilton lost an almost certain victory at the Yas Marina circuit due to a fuel pump failure, which was the latest in a run of issues to have hit the team.

His team-mate Jenson Button retired with a fuel pump problem in Italy, while Hamilton was struck with a gearbox failure in Singapore and suspension/anti-roll bar problems in Korea and Japan.

That run of breakages has led to McLaren falling out of contention in the Formula 1 world championship battles, but technical director Paddy Lowe has denied that this is evidence of a systematic problem.

"It is just a matter of chance really. It has fallen that way," said Lowe, when asked by AUTOSPORT about why there had been a run of reliability problems.

"If we analyse the total mileage of this car and the number of faults that either did or would have stopped you in a race, this car has been the most reliable car since I started recording it.

"It doesn't feel that way because so many of those problems have occurred in actual races when we have been in the lead, for instance. But that is the way that dice have fallen. They are all unrelated."

Lowe said that the lack of a link between the failures means there is no specific area the team can focus on to improve matters.

He believes a more widespread look at where steps forward can be made is required.

"If you have a chronic issue, you can go and address that one thing," he said. "But the things that have just happened are unlikely to happen again.

"It is a matter of general unreliability and you have to keep improving the game. We have improved it. It is better this year than last year and the year before - although it doesn't look like that or feel like that. So we just have to keep getting better."

Lowe said that Hamilton's problem in Abu Dhabi had been a big surprise, because the design of the fuel pump had been trouble-free for years.

"That was a failure of the high-pressure pump, which is a mechanical unit," he said. "That is a pump we have been running for 10 years without changing design, so it was a massive disappointment for us.

"It is something we are still investigating, and we are not absolutely clear what has gone wrong, even now."

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