Monaco: What Happened to Buttons McLaren on the Grid

Fans blow through tubing into a duct, with an optional dry ice tray, which is secured into the sidepod with a foam block

At the start of the Monaco Race, McLaren had a rare engine failure. This was not a problem with the engine itself, but caused by a procedural problem on the grid.
Before setting off for the grid the car is warmed up in the garage and the driver often completes several laps, cutting through the pit lane before finally parking on the grid. By this time the car is fully up to temperature and needs fans to keep the car cool. In the case of the engines radiators and oil coolers, this takes the form of fans inserted into the sidepod inlets. Fans pass cooling air through the radiator cores to cool the engines fluids.
For McLaren their sidepod fans comprise several parts, an external fan which feeds into convoluted tubing to a carbon fibre duct, this has the option of a tray of frozen nitrogen being inserted into it to further reduce temperatures. This then is inserted into a rigid foam block that is squeezed tightly into the sidepod inlet itself. Other teams have electrical fans fitted into similar carbon mouldings, these are all in one piece and when removed nothing can be left behind.
What happened to McLaren in Monaco, and this was partly shown by the FIA TV feed, that the mechanics withdrew the ducts and tubing, but on one side the foam black was left stuffed in the sidepod inlet. This was obviously missed by the mechanics, but was brought to their attention by the BBC TV pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz. By then it was too late and the car had to complete the formation lap and start the race with the block still in. The team were obviously anxious, but the block does have a hole through it, so some cooling airflow was getting through. With the safety car deployed on the opening lap and the pit lane closed, Button had no choice but to circulate a low speed, with the engines temperature slowly rising until steam could be seen spewing from the sidepod.
Although this was a rare error, as the car has these fans fitted when it pits during testing and free practice. One still wonders if McLaren will revert to a one piece design or tighten up the grid procedure to prevent another similar situation arising at future races.

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