Hamilton’s engineer got it wrong over Button pass, Whitmarsh admits

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Hamilton was told Button wouldn't pass him
Hamilton was told Button wouldn't pass him

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said the message given to Lewis Hamilton during the Turkish Grand Prix that Jenson Button would not overtake him was “wrong”.

During the Grand Prix race engineer Phil Prew advised him Button would not overtake. Whitmarsh admitted that Button’s pass on Hamilton came “shortly after” that message was given.

He also said Hamilton lifted more than expected in turn eight, giving Button the chance to pass.

Speaking to Whitmarsh during the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in I asked him when Hamilton had been advised Button wouldn’t pass him and why he had been given that message.

Whitmarsh explained Prew had read the situation wrongly:

Shortly after [Lewis] was told Jenson wouldn’t overtake him, Jenson did overtake him.

Phil gave his opinion, as it turned out his opinion was wrong. It’s as simple as that.

They both had a challenge in that race from the outside – the race was a bit quicker for the Red Bulls and the McLarens. We were consuming more fuel than we needed to so we had to find ways to save fuel.

Inevitably as you get to the end of race there is a dilemma about how hard you can race. I think we had it amply demonstrated that a team and their drivers can get that wrong.

Both of our racing drivers want to win and they were being told to look after fuel but as a consequence of that Phil had the opinion that Jenson wouldn’t overtake. Clearly that opinion was probably a wrong one.
Martin Whitmarsh

Whitmarsh added that Hamilton had lifted significantly in turn eight before Button passed him:

It wasn’t expected that Lewis would lift as much as he did in turn eight. I think for Jenson, as a racing driver, when he saw quite a big lift in turn eight he saw it as an opportunity to move up and subsequently made the pass.
Martin Whitmarsh

Drivers often lift at turn eight in Istanbul to save fuel.

Whitmarsh added that both cars were under instructions to save fuel which is why they maintained status up after Hamilton had taken the lead back from Button:

He asked a question and Phil Prew gave an instinctive and immediate response which is that he didn’t think Jenson was going to pass. He knew that they’d both been given the same instruction to save fuel.

Lewis understood that and wasn’t about to give up first place easily. He made a fairly robust overtake to ensure he remained in the lead.

Thereafter I think the two of them decided there was a reasonably fair and equitable equilibrium and they were looking to ensure they finished comfortably with fuel and with cars intact.
Martin Whitmarsh

Read more: McLaren told Hamilton Button wouldn?t pass him during the Turkish Grand Prix

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