Mercedes has been forced to inspect 1,200 Formula 1 car parts following the Spanish Grand Prix crash involving teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
With a day less than usual to prepare because the first two free practice sessions for next week’s Monaco Grand Prix are held on Thursday rather than Friday, many staff are having to work through the weekend to prepare the cars.
“Fortunately these sorts of incidents are very, very rare for us, but when they do happen we have quite a good process in place to deal with it,” said chief operating officer Rob Thomas. “When the cars were back at the garage in the circuit a lot of analysis was going on, a lot of phone calls, and what we got from the circuit was a quarantine list.
“Our first priority is to make sure the car is going to be safe. This quarantine list lists all the parts that, if you like, are suspect. On the list this time there were over 1,000 parts – 1,200 parts – that came back to us, either damaged, quarantined or needing some sort of work. A lot of the assemblies, for wings for example, will go to the testing department and they will be tested as a full assembly to see if they still have structural integrity. Lots of other parts then go into non-destructive testing, so they will be checked to see if there are any cracks within the components, or they will go to inspection where we will dimensionally check it.”
While there will be parts that pass inspection and be free to use again, in this instance there were many that sustained “lots of damage,” according to Thomas.
Mercedes managed to inspect every part within a 24-hour period before then contacting suppliers and demanding new parts quickly, or they were built in-house.
“The planning and organization is a huge challenge for us, and that’s really where the team excels,” added Thomas. “The teamwork between all the departments is seamless, and the communication is real time. We have two structured meetings per day to try and coordinate it, the reality, though, is happening all the time, with lots of conversations to try and pull it all together.
With all the parts in place the rebuild of the cars will commence on Friday, giving the team just three days to piece them together before going to Monaco.
“It’s all about compromise and making quick decisions,” said Thomas. “The number one priority is making sure the car is safe, so we take care of the class A parts, things like the suspension and those parts have to be correct, so we put a priority onto them. After that we look at the performance parts, and of course, we know we’ve a pretty competitive car. So everybody is massively motivated to make sure we get these performance parts together, and we go in the best possible condition to the circuit.”