Hamilton pushes Button to the end (Chinese GP team-by-team: McLaren)

Button passed Rosberg to lead but had to keep Hamilton at bay later on

Button passed Rosberg to lead but had to keep Hamilton at bay later on

The McLaren drivers ended up at the front of the field but each took very different routes there.

Jenson Button repeated his Melbourne feat of calling the conditions to perfection. Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton once again found himself battling through the field to make up for lost time – and nearly made it all the way to the lead.

Jenson Button Lewis Hamilton
Qualifying position 5 6
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’34.979 (-0.055) 1’35.034
Race position 1 2
Average race lap 1’54.324 (-0.027) 1’54.352
Laps 56/56 56/56
Pit stops 2 4
Chinese Grand Prix lap times: McLaren

Chinese Grand Prix lap times: McLaren (click to enlarge)

Jenson Button

Button’s second Grand Prix win of 2010 had much in common with his first.

His finely-tuned feel for the conditions led him to make the correct tyre choices which put him in a position to win. And he capitalised on a problem for the race leader – in this case Nico Rosberg – to take the lead.

This time he also had to weather serious pressure at the end of the race – from his own team mate.

At first he seemed to have the situation in control, pulling out a ten second lead over Hamilton. But then Button ran wide at the hairpin and suddenly the momentum was with his team mate, who had Button’s lead down to a second and a half at the chequered flag.

It was enough, however, for Button to take the win and with it the lead of the world championship.

Compare Jenson Button’s form against his team mate in 2010

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton’s fateful switch to intermediate tyres on lap two cost him a chance of victory – until the safety car period in the middle of the race brought him back into the hunt.

But he would have been wise to back down from his pit lane confrontation with Sebastian Vettel sooner – they both ended up getting reprimanded for it.

After that Hamilton’s third trail through the field in as many races began. And once again he pulled off some impressive moves – particularly his opportunistic pass on Vettel and Adrian Sutil at the hairpin. And he found good grip around the outside of turn eight in the worst of the rain, using it to launch passes on unsuspecting rivals into turn nine.

He had the most difficulty passing the two Mercedes drivers. Michael Schumacher put up a typically robust defence which Hamilton needed three laps to break down.

And he lost more precious time behind Rosberg – giving away four seconds to his team mate in the process. Without that, and being held in the pits briefly at his final pit stop because of another car coming past, he could have jumped past Button and taken the lead at the final pit stop.

As it was, he seemed to have more life in his tyres at the end of the race and cut into Button’s lead after the world champion had run wide at the hairpin.

Their team, perhaps mindful of Hamilton’s last-lap crash in Monza last year, urged him to to take extra care on the final lap. He finished second – his best result of the year – but clearly wanted more.

Having begun the weekend looking conclusively faster than Button, he lost the initiative when it mattered – in Q3 – and from there Button pressed home his advantage.

Compare Lewis Hamilton’s form against his team mate in 2010

2010 Chinese Grand Prix

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68 comments on Hamilton pushes Button to the end (Chinese GP team-by-team: McLaren)

  1. disjunto said on 19th April 2010, 23:55

    Having just watched the Vettel-Hamilton pit lane incident again. I’m even more on Hamiltons side, ho came out of the box, lost traction and ended up on the side of vettel who immediately started to try and push him, Hamilton couldn’t slow because their wheels were overlapping. In my mind, it was 95% Vettels fault.

    But, good race from Button again, new damp track king?

    • ExplosiveFace said on 20th April 2010, 8:39

      I still think Hamilton was at fault.

      Both cars were released at the same time, with Hamilton in front. Hamilton gets away slowly, and Vettel gets into the fast lane. Hamilton loses traction, and ends up alongside Vettel.

      Vettel did not immediately push him to the side, he saw Hamilton was next to him, but was also just behind him. Vettel drove straight for about 4 seconds, expecting Hamilton to back off, but when he didn’t he drove to the right up to the first white line, which is the edge of the fast lane. Vettel couldn’t judge where Hamilton would end up if he didn’t stop, which was right along side the air lines.

      Hamilton had plenty of time to back off safely, but he was determined to keep going and ended up in a dangerous position. I don’t think it was Vettel’s fault at all, as he was in front.

      There needs to be some new rules about the pit lane, the passing going on at the enterance wasn’t right (Especially with Alonso forcing his team mate onto the grass). The only rule about this stuff is “It is the responsibility of the competitor to release his car after a pit stop only when it is safe to do so”. It gets pretty hard to judge when it is safe when two nearby cars are released at the same time.

    • fbr said on 20th April 2010, 9:41

      I don’t know if you know, but Hamilton shouldn’t be even let to leav he’s box because of the approaching Vettel. So how could that possibly be Vettels fault?!?

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th April 2010, 10:09

        Watch the replay again, they were both released at pretty much the same time.

        • Ronman said on 20th April 2010, 11:57

          i think pit stop rules should be enforced for safety’s sake, imagine if Hami drove into some mechanic or Alonso and Massa Crashing and closing the pit lane altogether. that would of been disastrous at the point in the race…

          • Patrickl said on 20th April 2010, 17:09

            So you’re saying they should have given Vettel a penalty for pushing Hamilton out off the fastlane?

            There are some clauses in the rules for that, but I’m not sure they apply to the pitlane. Besides, Schumacher pushed Hamilton off track too and he got no penalty for that either. I think pushing cars off is pretty much allowed.

        • MouseNightshirt said on 21st April 2010, 2:58

          The release times were in no way identical on the replay. There was at least a good second between them. “Pretty much the same” and “the same” are vastly different things in F1.

          What is very clear though is that there is absolutely no way the McLaren lollipop man would have been able to see Vettel released as Hamilton’s car and his pitcrew were standing in the way.

          When it came to it, Vettel technically had right of way in my view and Hamilton should simply have yielded. Yes they were both naughty, but Hamilton put them in the situation in the first place.

          • @MouseNightshirt,

            There was nowehere near 1 secong between the releases, At most it was 1 or 2 tenths. This difference means nothing to the human eye in the heat of the moment, especially when there is a pit crew between the lollipop controller and the next car. It looked like a bigger gap as Hamilton lost grip for a moment so was slower out of the box which brought vettel alongside.

            Yes hamilton could probably have backed off and yes Vettel should not have pushed him into the garages but I think the Stewards got it right again. I do not want to see drivers punished if possible as I want to see them racing rather than being frightened of accruing a penalty. It seems as though many on this blog want every incident punished though which is a shame.

        • kbdavies said on 21st April 2010, 17:12

          Isnt this the wrong thread for this discussion?

      • Keiht is right watch the replay…..it was vettels fault… vettel showing shadows of m.schumacher…both of them arent fair when they are racing for position with other drivers…and we all can thank Hamilton for not making F1 booring :D

  2. I am a Jens fan, and even i thought he would get manhandled this year, but he proved us wrong, he really matured into a complete driver.

    • Mark Young said on 20th April 2010, 10:56

      I agree mate, he has been red hot.
      It hasn’t just been his two opportune strategy calls, it has been the way he has delivered on the day it matters.

  3. Burt said on 20th April 2010, 0:03

    Lewis has been disappointing in quali so far. He’s got the speed as he shows in practice, but has been unable, for whatever reason, to translate into grid positions. Good for us to watch him carve up the field, but he’s making life hard for himself. I expect him to sort this out pretty soon, though.

    • rfs said on 20th April 2010, 0:26

      This! Lewis needs to get his qualifying pace in order. At this point I’d rather see him win a couple of boring races from pole than make a charge from 12th or wherever.

      • mfDB said on 20th April 2010, 20:15

        I think the McLaren isn’t that great at qualy with new rules, but it is obviously fast in race conditions (opposite of the Red Bull). Ferrari seems to have similar issues. Based on past performances, I think it has more to do with the car than it does Lewis.

    • Patrickl said on 20th April 2010, 0:56

      Agree.

      I was wondering if he wasn’t overdriving the car overheating his tyres.

      Button was complaining of the same. How somtimes he started the lap on tyres that were too cold or that the tyres would overheat and offer no grip at the end.

      Seems like the same problem that Hamilton had, only he couldn’t understand what it was while Button felt that he understood what the problem was. Although he then still couldn’t deal with it either.

      • Burt said on 20th April 2010, 1:45

        What was inexpicable was that everyone improved their times from Q2 to Q3, apart from Lewis. Having been quickest in Q1 and Q2, you would have thought he would have got it figured out. Instead he went backward.

        • wasiF1 said on 20th April 2010, 2:10

          I think why Hamilton didn’t had the pace in qualifying because he may have had a wet set up on Saturday?

          About the pit lane incident I blame both of them.Hamilton should have back off & sit under the rear wing of Vettel, & Vettel for no reason pushed Hamilton towards right.The FIA needs to take this issue seriously so that things like this can be avoided in the future.

          • what exactly is a wet setup?

          • wasiF1 said on 20th April 2010, 7:53

            @ SD
            Wet setup is a setup where the car’s suspension is soft & they add more down force on the car so that it don’t aquaplane.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th April 2010, 8:10

            Perhaps but they wouldn’t have had time to make that kind of change between Q2 and Q3.

          • PJA said on 20th April 2010, 9:59

            I thought after the cars left the garage in qualifying they were in parce ferme conditions so they couldn’t change things such as the suspension only front wing and tyre pressures.

          • Tengil said on 20th April 2010, 10:28

            “Perhaps but they wouldn’t have had time to make that kind of change between Q2 and Q3.”

            Or been allowed to, I think the cars are under Parc fermé conditions from the start of qualifying.

          • Tengil said on 20th April 2010, 10:30

            Thanks PJA, that should teach me to refresh the page before I post a reply :)

          • The same thing has happened to me a few times too.

          • @PJA,

            I am sure parc ferme conditions only exist after qualifying. Surely a driver can request more or less wing and adjust tyre pressures etc during qualifying if they feel they need more/less grip etc?

          • I am not sure on the rules so I could be wrong on this.

            As far as I know drivers can adjust things such as tyre pressure and front wing in parc ferme, but not ride height and some other items.

            A few times now the BBC commentators have mentioned that parc ferme conditions start as soon as the car leaves the garage during qualifying rather than after qualifying, this is where I heard it from.

            I suppose this makes sense as it stops a team setting a quick lap in an early part of a qualifying session on a qualifying setup and then changing to a race setup before the end of qualifying.

  4. Jian said on 20th April 2010, 0:16

    Once again with the parallells drawn to Aussie GP, had McLaren not called Lewis in, a podium would surely be in the bag, 10points lost…

    Finally a note on the double overtaking, while overtaking could be rare (note in China!) a double is even rarer, we see barely one a year:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-qJl6ES9wg

    • Stephen said on 20th April 2010, 0:45

      Once again with the parallells drawn to Aussie GP, had McLaren not called Lewis in, a podium would surely be in the bag, 10points lost…

      Actually, had McLaren not called him in when they did he would have been lucky to score points at all, let alone a podium finish!

      There was no way his tyres were going to last the whole race.

      • Patrickl said on 20th April 2010, 0:58

        Since Whitmarsh, Paddy Lowe and Hamilton later claimed that his tyres could have lasted the race and that that stop (in hindsight) was a mistake, I’m inclined to believe they could have lasted.

        • Stephen said on 20th April 2010, 1:05

          According to Hirohide Hamashima, Webber and Hamilton had to stop.

          • fordsrule said on 20th April 2010, 1:09

            Yeah and according to him Alnso’s tyres were in great condition, which is why Hamilton caught him easily and Alonso locked up and out braked himself.

          • Stephen said on 20th April 2010, 2:53

            Yeah and according to him Alnso’s tyres were in great condition, which is why Hamilton caught him easily and Alonso locked up and out braked himself.

            Hamilton caught him easily because he was on newer tyres, Alonso was struggling because he was following Massa (who was all over the place) closely and possibly under team orders not to pass him. Anyway, this is a pointless argument.

            BTW – When anyone minimises this page to they get in the task bar: “Hamilton pushes Butt…”?

          • DaveW said on 20th April 2010, 16:05

            According to Hamashida, Button’s tires were also completed busted and it was “dangerous” for him to have driven that way. Quote selectively from the Bridgestone article and you get your favored result. There is no way of knowing what Hamilton and Webber could have done if they had backed off at the time they pitted and nursed the tires to the end.

    • Antiriad said on 20th April 2010, 3:26

      Except Lewis should be intelligent enough to make his own decisions on tyres.

      Jenson was. As he said himself, it is not just about being quick, but making the right calls.

      Jenson may not be as quick as Hamilton but he is smarter.

      • Hairs said on 20th April 2010, 8:02

        Exactly. Whitmarsh said both drivers were given the weather information and given a choice to come in or not, and in his words “the drivers then have more information than we do.”

        Lewis is getting some subtle rebukes from McLaren at the moment I think.

        • Hairs said on 20th April 2010, 8:03

          Also, if you look at the graph, the two drivers lap times pretty much shadow each other. So is Jenson really slower than Lewis, or does it just look that way because of the way JB is approaching the race?

      • MarkC said on 21st April 2010, 18:51

        Shades of Senna (Hamilton) and Prost (Button), the passion and the pragmatist. Same colour helmets too. I love these random coincidences.

      • lewi said on 23rd April 2010, 1:24

        jenson made a lucky call, thats all. hamilton was close to him after 2 more pitstops and we all know in the up and coming races which most likely are going to be dry conditions, hamilton is going to be the man ahead. jenson is a good driver im not disputing that but hamilton is better.

  5. Burt said on 20th April 2010, 0:23

    Interesting comments post race from the McLaren Race Director on the BBC. When asked about the theory that Jensen is kinder on his tyres compared to Lewis, he revealed that they themselves had not seen any evidence to back that up. Rather is was the way the two manage the life of their tyres during the race.

    I think attitude has a lot to do with it. Lewis likes to push on fresh rubber, while Jenson is more conservative. I also think that having Lewis up his backside after the final pitstop caused Jensen to change his usual attitude. He pushed harder than he wanted to, and shot his tyres towards the end. Jensen alluded to this himself after the race.

    • gpfan said on 20th April 2010, 1:00

      You know, I’m starting to think of Jens and The Hammer the way I thought of Ayrton and The Professor.

      Bring it on McLaren! Thank you.

      (FYI, I hate The Hammer, and love Jens).

      If Macca ever gets a dominant car again, the season shall be thrilling!
      (A la 1988).

      andy, the Alonso fan.

    • Patrickl said on 20th April 2010, 1:02

      It’s not attitude, but it’s necessity.

      Button made the right call and could basically cruise at the lead. Hamilton did go through the wrong tyres as did much of the rest of the field so he had to make up time and places.

      Hamilton HAD to ask more of his tyres.

      Hamilton did all that overtaking and hunting for Button and still he had the better tyres. Or perhaps both where in the same bad state, but Button couldn’t keep it on the road.

      So, if anything, Hamilton is better at managing his tyres than Button is.

      • Burt said on 20th April 2010, 1:16

        Patricki, If you recall, Lewis pitted after his failed attempt to overtake Nico. This allowed him to jump Nico who pitted the following lap along with Jensen.

        So you are incorrect in saying Lewis had to do all the extra overtaking in hunting for Jensen. He was right behind behind him. It was a straight fight to the end with Lewis and Jensen both on fresh inters.

        Lewis closed up to within 2 seconds, but then complained over he radio that his front left was bald, so he had to back off. Jensen kept pushing, lapping quicker and opening a 10 second gap, but in doing so also shot his tyres.

        • DanThorn said on 20th April 2010, 10:42

          If you remember, Lewis’ tyres went off about 9 or 10 laps from the end and he started losing masses of time to Button. Then about 5 laps from the end, Button’s tyres went off and Hamilton started closing. I think it’s a case of Lewis having more time to learn how to drive around the problem of worn tyres than Button did.

          • LOL

            If you remember correctly, Button made a small mistake and went straight on at the hairpin. This caused him to lose heat in the tyres and he couldn’t continue doing the lap times he was previously doing. Had he not slid off he would have continued to pull ahead of Hamilton at the same rate that he was previously doing until his tyres finally gave up.

          • dcowlives said on 20th April 2010, 16:28

            All this is just conjecture. The fact remains that Hamilton felt the conditions were not right to stay on slicks and subsequently made 2 extra pitstops and lost almost a minute getting onto the correct rubber for the conditions.

            Button felt he could handle the slick tyres on the slick surface and decided to continue without stopping, ultimately winning the race on a combination of supreme pace and confidence in his abilities on the slicks.

            Hamilton was fortunate that the second safety car came out and eliminated the 2 extra pit stops he made, allowing him to rejoin at the front yet still some way behind Button. Regardless of another fantastic and enjoyable to watch drive to recover from his initial lack of confidence on slicks, ultimately he was lucky to finish second.

          • DaveW said on 20th April 2010, 16:30

            Maybe its a case that, after seeing Hamilton in the mirrors, Button was “frit”, as ya’ll say, and couldn’t keep it on the road. If that race were another 4 laps, he would have gobbled up Button.

            But racing for the published number of laps was Button’s advantage. Specifically, Hamilton should have covered Button by not pitting early. Instead he covered the RedBulls, the presumably fastest cars wet or dry. That was the proper logic of the moment. And it worked as far as beating the RedBulls and the Ferraris. But logic does not give the right answer without insight, and that was Button’s advantage, and it is the advantage of experience.

            Nonethless, Button’s collapse in the final laps I found shocking. It was like seeing a lion jogging after a gazelle, forcing it to run, knowing it will tire enough to succumb to a burst of speed.

            As in Australia, Hamilton was able to press his competitors even after his tires were shot. It seems that Hamilton burns his tires, but it looks like he can handle a car on shot tires, or a bad car, better than anyone, perhaps save Alonso.

          • Patrickl said on 20th April 2010, 17:29

            Sure Hamilton’s tyres were going off, but so were Button’s. In fact Button’s tyres were so far off that he couldn’t keep it on the road.

            Look at the laptime chart and see that Button’s tyres went a lot worse than Hamilton’s. While Button even did a lap less.

            Button had some bla bla story that it was that his tyres cooled off from going off track, but in reality his tyres were gone already before that.

          • MouseNightshirt said on 21st April 2010, 3:03

            Button gave himself enough room to make a mistake and still win. The mistake is irrelevant, how much Lewis closed is irrelevant, Button gave himself enough time to counter it all and it’s the result at the end of the race, not the laptimes that come in the dying laps that count and will always count.

          • DaveW said on 22nd April 2010, 17:20

            Mouseshirt, the expression you are looking for is “saved by the bell.” In the sport where that term comes from, it’s not an accolade.

  6. MacLeod said on 20th April 2010, 10:51

    As a Racer myself i give Vettel here the right of going first. Lewis cannot be penaulized because they were released about the same time. But Lewis did a bad job of letting his wheels spinning while driving away. So both came to the safe lane at the same time BUT vettel was on it and Lewis next to it. Lewis should back off and join the safe lane behind Vettel. I would penalized Lewis not for leaving his pit while a other coming on the safe lane but for trying to RACE NEXT to the safelane to get ahead. Lewis got very luckly here as the marshalls probally looks to the first situation leaving the pitbox.

    Otherwise both did well to keep the race exciting on and off the track. Alsono should got a other penaulty of passing white lines toowards the pitlane.

    I think 2 new rules are coming NO crossing the white lines before and after the pit for leaving and entering the pit.
    And giving away to the one on the safelane.

    • Patrickl said on 20th April 2010, 17:31

      Which article(s) of the regulations do you base those penalties on?

      As you remark yourself, rules need to be put in place to determine what to do in these situations. As such rules do not yet exist, there is not much to base a penalty on.

      • Dougie said on 20th April 2010, 18:37

        I agree with MacLeod. Lewis should have been penalised 5 places next race. I’d give Vettel a reprimand and a suspended penalty for the remainder of the season.

        Lewis should have relented immediately, and what Vettel did was cheeky. But the lives of Marshalls and Pit Crew were at risk and on safety grounds punishment is correct.

        • @Dougie,

          Why does anyone need to be punished? The stewards told them both off and that is surely fine. I do not want to see a return to the last few years of F1 where all sorts of things were punished randomly and seemingly new rules appeared out of nowhere! Less punishments equal better racing, Vettel and Hamilton were both a little naughty in that incident but I am happy to see both unpunished.

          • dcowlives said on 21st April 2010, 13:17

            @Lee,

            Hi, and I agree in the main with what you say. For example Button shouldn’t be punished for the restart (though in my view he didnt do anything wrong anyway as he slowed gradually), Hamilton should not have been punished for Spa ’08 (though the new ruling was needed), Vettel should not have been punished for Aus ’09 etc etc

            However, where Marshalls, Team Personnel, and other “non-drivers” are put at risk, punishment should be the minimum. The drivers know the risk in the sport, and they are well protected in the tub, other personnel are extremely vunerable, the drivers are mature and should know their responsibilities. In my view over the last few years, there have been way too many instances like this in the pit lane (hence the new rule) and therefore the drivers are well aware of the dangers the FIA are trying to prevent.

          • dcowlives said on 21st April 2010, 13:20

            ps. I know Button was not puinished anyway, but it was just an example of a recent incident.

            pps. I’ve recently changed my username from ‘Dougie’ to ‘dcowlives’ and I’m still finding PCs remembering my old username… I access the site from a number of different Personal/Laptop/Pocket computers each week.

    • Toncho said on 22nd April 2010, 18:13

      You can cross the lines entering the pit, you can not do the same in the exit.

      Anyway, what’s the point of given pilots warnings and reprimends if they are not taken into account for the future.

  7. Phil said on 20th April 2010, 16:39

    Keith, could you tell me which driver has won the most races for McLaren? Tried web searches and McLaren website to no avail.

  8. djdaveyp said on 20th April 2010, 19:31

    Told you all Jenson would be up to it!

  9. Burt said on 21st April 2010, 6:33

    More interesting stuff on tyres from BBC website:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/8629477.stm

    Selected quotes:

    ” Bridgestone’s technical manager Hirohide Hamashima spoke post-qualifying in China about the big variation in tyre usage he was seeing between different cars – and between team-mates in the same cars..

    ..Of the top cars, the Red Bull was taking the most out of its tyres, the Ferrari was by far the kindest. One McLaren – Jenson Button’s – was almost as good as the Ferrari in its tyre usage; Lewis Hamilton’s car was almost as bad as the Red Bulls. ”

    Make of this what you will.. We don’t know how the cars were set-up. I suspect Red Bull had high-downforce set-ups, Brundle said in commentary that Webber did. Jensen said he had a good set-up for the wet too – yet still had good wear. I’m not sure about Lewis’ set-up, but I can’t imagine it would be too far from Jensen’s.

  10. Conorsheehan said on 21st April 2010, 22:15

    i think it was a racing situation, ereleased at same time, warning required coz they were both at fault but lets not damage racing for it with more regulations and rules, besides if they do get docked places though i think they shouldn’t, you know it’ll be an exciting race as they pass through the feild so…

  11. KnottyBwoy said on 22nd April 2010, 4:18

    C’mon! You all know it! Lewis gives us the best show in every race. He’s was the man to watch in every game. The most excitng driver on track in the last four races.Button is just a lucky guy in those two races with his voodoo father wearing his magical pink shirt. Hahaha! Watch the next races and Lewis will eat him alive!

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