Before any wrench is placed in the car, Tsouris or one of his team members give each F1 a thorough safety check and a long driving test, including a race on the Millbrook test field, from which a detailed report is generated, some of them downloaded from the archaic 90s Compaq laptop that connects to one of F1s three electronic brains, which are quite simple by todays standards.
In terms of routine maintenance, F1 is in many respects quite simple. As expected, each car changes its fluids and filters naturally, while there are some “raised” elements that need to be replaced at fixed intervals: the fuel cell is renewed every five years, while the shock absorbers are changed after ten oclock. Some items such as spark plugs and their coil packs give virtually no problem, requiring little more than an inspection. Pads and discs are also checked, but wear rates are good and most cars dont make enough miles to require frequent replacements. The carbon fibre structure of the car is also checked, but apart from the damage caused by accidents, no problems have been reported so far.
A clutch will most likely need to be replaced. The carbon fibre article is not temperamental as such, but it does not like to be slipped, and with quite a few cars being mixed in the conveyors at regular intervals, abuses can occur. Its not a huge job to replace, but the cost of the parts is astronomical. Think five figures.
In reality, however, there is rarely anything as routine as “routine,” because years of car development mean that no two services are the same. And thats where McLaren stands out. Yes, it has a warehouse full of new stock parts and old , but the company also continues to develop new components in an effort to secure the future of F1.
“Electronics is starting to suffer,” Reinhold explains. “Rebuilding the various control units can be extremely difficult, so were developing a modern system that owners can use if they want. We have also had to develop a new coating for the magnesium wheels because the original is extremely toxic, and we are also at the end of a five-year program to create replacement windshields and glass. And the brake pad material has been constantly refined to improve the feel and response of the pedal.