Fernando Alonso’s retirement from Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix was caused by a stray visor tear-off strip blocking one of his rear brake ducts, the McLaren team has confirmed.
The Spaniard, who qualified thirteenth-fastest for his home race, was running in fourteenth place when, on Lap 28, he ran wide at Turn 1 and immediately reported a suspected brake failure.
Instructed by his team to head to the pits for an inspection of the problem, he then ran out of stopping power on approach to his pit bay and almost ran over his front jackman.
The team elected to wheel his car into the garage and retire him from the race, and subsequently discovered a visor tear-off had blocked a rear brake duct.
“My pit-stop was a scary moment,” he reflected after notching his second DNF of the season.
“I didn’t have much rear braking for my whole in-lap, then even less at the stop. It was scary for the mechanics, but luckily it didn’t hurt anyone.”
Despite bringing a raft of aerodynamic upgrades to its Honda-powered MP4-30 that allowed both Alonso and teammate Jenson Button to make the Q2 cut for the first time this season, the weekend was a disaster for the Woking squad.
Button finished a lapped sixteenth, ahead of only the two Manor Marussias, and was particularly downcast about the team’s prospects of scoring points for the rest of the season.
“On Friday the long runs were good, but it was pretty scary to drive,” he said afterwards.
“Every time I touched the throttle it just snapped. I’m sure there is something wrong there. The problem is in low speed corners it is slow because you accelerate and you get wheelspin immediately, but in high speed it is very scary as soon as you touch the power the rear end is gone, it snaps immediately.
“After today I don’t think I expect points at all this year. Hopefully today was an off day, it didn’t feel right,” he continued.
“The weekend has been reasonably good for us, I’ve been happy with how the car has been, but it was like flicking a switch in the race.”
Images via McLaren Media Centre