A few teams have cleverly used a tactical advantage in order to escape penalty in form of grid position, it has emerged.
After the Chinese GP, Williams discovered a problem with Pastor Maldonado´s gearbox and promptly changed it. That meant five places down on the grid in Bahrain for the Venezuelan driver, who eventually retired the car. Bruno Senna´s car also encountered some issues, this time the brake pedal felt shaky, and the team decided to retire Senna´s car, by having the Brazilian driver enter the pits and retire the car.
“The loophole in the long-life gearbox rule is that genuine retirements – for whatever reason – are not further penalised on the grid of the next race, even if a gearbox is changed out of sequence,” writes Germany´s Auto Motor und Sport. The tactical retirement was also used for Jenson Button in Bahrain. Having been in the points, Button then hit a problem with what is probably a broken and noisy exhaust that was blowing hot gases onto the tyre, which punctured. Button pitted, but was back a lap later with what the team explained as ‘differential problems’, but Button was now back in 13th place, and had no hopes of scoring points this late in the race.
Button will get a free gearbox change, since he did not complete the race, but the tactical reason is even more clever for McLaren, since they are planning some interesting modifications at the rear of the cars, which requires a whole different gearbox shape.