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

2010 Turkish Grand Prix

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120 comments on “Hamilton’s engineer got it wrong over Button pass, Whitmarsh admits”

  1. Sush Meerkat
    8th June 2010, 11:01

    Phil Prew vised him Button

    I think you mean advised there Keith?


    1. Fixed, thanks.

    2. but they remained vodafriends thereafter…

        8th June 2010, 13:35

        Vodafriends! haha i love it

      2. Sush Meerkat
        8th June 2010, 13:39

        Oh I see what you did there Qazubh.

        We’ll see at the next few races how close the VodaFriends really are.

      3. Haha! very well done indeed!

  2. I think this is an interesting outcome of the no-refueling rule. It was widely discussed that there would be tyre degradation issues and differences in fuel use strategy mixing things up toward the end of the race – but the idea that team-mates in identical machinery would be closely matched on fuel and therefore fight hard in a brief window of advantage was something I hadn’t considered.

  3. This makes the most sense to me – Hamilton would know that team orders are not allowed so he could not have been asking if Jenson had been ordered not to pass, just asking his engineer if he thought Button would pass him. Hamilton’s engineer would know that he had been told to save fuel for a while but possibly did not realise he had saved enough that the could make a strong move, or thought that if Button had been told to save fuel relatively early then he must be struggling with consumption.

    Hamilton’s demeanor after the race could reflect that he suspected that both him and his engineer had been misinformed by the team about Button’s fuel levels.

    1. Team orders like that ARE allowed

    2. Exactly – Lewis was asking for a definitive answer about him being “safe”, Phil gave an opinion, Lewis assumed that was gospel. Mistaken communication. You know what this means?

      It means that in the earlier thread, I WAS RIGHT!

      You know who’s always right? ME, that’s who. I’m the rightest. You want to know what’s right and what’s not? Ask me. I’m always right, so I’ll know. If the forum was open, you could start a thread titled “What’s the right answer, Hairs?”, to which you could post your questions. Unfortunately with no forum, Keith will have to make space elsewhere. I suggest removing the “2011 Season” link at the top of the page, which isn’t a lot of use, and replacing it with a link to a new article “Questions for the Rightmaster” instead. The rules will be set down in the article, along with a small Bio piece about how utterly awesome I am, linked examples of how right I’ve been in the past, and we can use the comments to post questions and answers in a handy Question-Reply format.

      We may have to add another article for “Testimonials on how Right Hairs Is” once the thread has been going for a while so people can post how my stunning examples of Rightness have positively affected their lives, and just how much more right I was than anybody else they may have asked.

      For the moment we should probably keep it to F1 queries, though I’m not averse to opening it up to personal problems if people have a need for it.

      1. Keep taking the “Happy pills” Hairs you know it’s the right thing to do!!

      2. Okay Rightmaster, who is going to win the WDC?

        1. People looking for predictions are looking in the wrong place, this is “What’s the right answer, Hairs?”, which is situational questioning such as “Hey, see that over there, what do you think happened with that?” or “Is A better than B?”.

          For those looking for precognition, I refer you to the Hairs Psychic Detectioning Agency and Tantric Tarot, where your questions will be answered in as vague and non-specific manner as possible, at a premium phone line rate.

          Sample predictions include “A situtation will occur that you will not be entirely comfortable with.”; “A person you find annoying will engage in behaviour that encourages you to disengage from them” and “Things you enjoy will give you pleasure”.

          For more gems of Psychic wonder, please call 1800SLACKJAWED. I hope you can appreciate that given the sensitive and powerful nature of these predictions, I can’t just hand them out, and must protect them with large phone charges so that they are not used unscrupulously by the recipients.

          1. Hahahaha, Hairs the right, you are enjoying this aren’t you?

          2. Not as much as Yore Ma.

      3. Well Hairs, if you thought for a second that anyone would get a laugh out of this…

        You we’re right!
        well done! ;)

        1. were, not we’re.

          See? I AM always right.

      4. Lol! Hairs you do make me laugh :)

        Oh Hairs the right one, could you please tell me when Massa will win again as I’m a bit impatient? I will courtsey, I will build a shrine for you, worship at your temple but your answer would be much appreciated…unless you say he never will again.

        1. Courtsey and worship at my temple, eh?

          That’s tempting but I can’t break the rules of the Hairs Psychic Detecting Agency I’m afraid.

          Still, steph worshipping at my temple gives me another idea for my “Why you should watch….” guest column….

          1. My god , Courtsey? Either your wrong, Or my eyes are lying to me!

          2. Courtsey is an old spelling of curtsey.

      5. How many fingers am I holding up?

        1. You’re holding up an amount of fingers that reflects your best guess as to what I might not happen to guess, in the hopes that you can prove me wrong.

          1. LOL awesome… that answer is correct

      6. :D Love It!
        (Your comment was a bit too short. Please go back and try again.)

      7. Rightmaster please tell me the drivers who will finish top 5 in the Canadian GP and also the pole time. I want to move up in the prediction championship.

  4. Are we expected to digest this nonsense?

    1. Agreed: they’re just trying to wipe it under the carpet.
      JB clearly did not obey team orders; he must have known what the consequences would be of his overtake.
      I think we’re going to see more fireworks from Maclaren this season, all is clearly not well there – same as RB for that matter.
      Another plus for the refuelling ban in any case ! Last year they would just hold station after the last pitstop – now at least we get to see racing in the final laps. Like I said before: we have a boring middle section now, but don’t miss the beginning and the end of the race.

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        8th June 2010, 12:38

        JB clearly did not obey team orders; he must have known what the consequences would be of his overtake.
        In your haste to make this into a conspiracy theory, you’re overlooking one crucial point: what consequences? If Button had kept his position, what could McLaren possibly have done to him? He wouldn’t have cost Hamilton the lead of the championship; in fact, Button would have passed Webber in the overall standings.

        My suspicion is that if Button was told to let Hamilton back through, it was because McLaren felt Button had unfairly claimed the position; ie, Hamilton would not have given the place away if he had thought he and Button were on the same strategy.

        After all, FOM have access to all of the audio from team radios, and they’re the ones who cut the race edits on Formula1.com, so why would they not play the audio from Button’s sie of the garage?

        1. So you’re claiming we’re trying to make this into a conspiracy theory yet state that “Jenson clearly did not obey team orders”.


          1. Sorry Prisoner Monkeys. Your post makes a bit more sense after reading it twice, thrice actually.

        2. I wasn’t thinking conspiracy, my thoughts about ‘consequences’ were more about internal fallout: Lewis and the team being all over him.
          I just think JB made the pass when he saw the opportunity, as that is racing off course. But: this being his team mate and nobody to threaten the win, I find no reason for his move, except for sending a message to Lewis. He can always claim ‘oops, misunderstanding’ afterwards. It didn’t look like he let LH pass him all too easily for that matter. He saw Lewis coming back and possibly realized that, well, there was enough fuel in LH’s tank.
          In JB’s position, when the team told you to ‘save fuel’, you can safely assume in the cockpit that they told LH the same. From his obvious slowing down, it is even visible as you are closing him down. Now, if LH had run into trouble they would have told JB that and he would have passed him indeed to secure the win. This message was not given, so from JB’s standpoint it must have been clear that LH was backing off and expected him to do the same (saving fuel=holding station). He could easily follow a second or so behind as he did in the last few laps, but no: he goes on and makes the pass. And by doing so, I think he sent a message.
          From what I see, the gloves are indeed off.
          If JB had managed to hold on, the story would have been that he won because LH did not have enough fuel at that stage. The message would have been even clearer to Lewis: no handouts.
          As JB has held more or less his own against Lewis courtesy of his 2 wins and add the fact that Whitmarsch himself wanted JB in the team, that will give JB some goodwill within Maclaren. As long he doesn’t get thrashed by Lewis and does not blatantly ignore team orders, I don’t think Maclaren cares one bit what JB did. A win is a win for them, and he didn’t crash into Lewis or something.
          Well, my interpretation off course; I have been wrong before mind !

    2. I agree. This is nonsense. Isnt Phil the Cheif engioneer that oversees BOTH sides of the garage?
      He would have known what Button is doing, and what Lewis is doing at any single time. He must have overseen the instruction for both of them to save fuel. He must have decided the lap delta times given to both drivers, So how can he get it wrong?
      He must have KNOWN the time given to Lewis would cause Jenson to overtake. This is simple mathematics, not rocket science!

      McLaren should just shut up about this incident and stop taking us for fools!

      1. He could get it wrong because Lewis slowed more than anticipated- he couldn’t control Lewis’ speed, he could only advise. It’s simple logic.

    3. Whats so implausible about this explanation? Certainly seems to make sense to me. Of course some people prefer the sensational answer to the logical one :)

      1. I agree, Couldn’t it just be a case of, “whoops!”

  5. I wonder why Martin Whitmarsh has waited so long to make this statement.
    If it was this clear cut surely he would have said this long before now. The Maclaren team got it wrong; for such a slick outfit these amateurish recurring mistakes just do not ring true. It’s not good enough . . .

    My guess is that Whitmarsh as head ‘honcho’ – he needs to go into damage limitation mode to stem the flow of negative press his team are receiving through mounting press speculation and the publication of Lewis’s radio coms.
    (I also wonder why Jenson’s radio com has not been broadcast?)

    I think it a little low for Whitmarsh to throw Phil Prew under the bus, without revealing what Jenson’s engineer was communicating. surely as team boss he already knows the answer to that question?

    Perhaps F1 conspiracy theories add to the drama of the developing 2010 season.

    What ever happens Lewis will demonstrate his true worth, Jenson ‘a fine driver’ will complete the season where he deserves, on his own merits .

    Martin Whitmarsh should step up, get his act together and manage the team in a stellar fashion. Maclaren is a first class team and they deserve that much from him, the standard has already been set – he is letting the side down with his dithering politics.

    1. Magnificent Geoffrey
      8th June 2010, 11:53

      “I think it’s a little low for Whitmarsh to throw Phil Prew under the bus, without revealing what Jenson’s engineer was communicating.”

      I would agree, but I believe that this may be a form of damage limitation from Whitmarsh.

      Clearly, in an ideal world, this miscommunication would never have been made public and McLaren would simply have got everyone together and sorted it out internally and that would be the end of it – no one would ever need to know. However, as it turns out, FOM decide to share the actual radio conversation that caused the confusion between the two McLaren drivers with the world through their race highlights clip – and now everyone knows what happened. Hamilton was explicitly told that he wouldn’t need to defend his lead from Jenson so he backed-off… and was promptly passed by his team mate. Arguably, it’s only because Lewis muscled his way back past Jenson immediately afterwards that he still managed to win the race. This is why Lewis was so upset after the race, because he was told something that was incorrect. We don’t know what Jenson was told, but it makes sense to me to suggest that Jenson was given no instruction to hold position prior to the overtake and that Lewis shouldn’t have been led to believe otherwise in the first place, either.

      I think that it is because this is all now public knowledge that Whitmarsh feels the need to come clean and explain what actually happened in order to prevent the media and all of us from speculating about a possible team division or about any discontent between the drivers. I don’t think he wants to point the finger at Phil like this but I guess looking at Red Bull, and also thinking back to 2007, Martin wants to stop any kind of speculation about his team’s cohesion from resulting in any actual problems developing within the team.

      …or I could just be looking too much into this.

      1. That was very well put.

    2. “I wonder why Martin Whitmarsh has waited so long to make this statement.”

      Well, he was asked by Keith, that’s why he’s made the ‘statement’ at this particular moment in time.

    3. I wouldn’t say he threw him under the the bus. There was a miscomunication. An opinion was given and taken as fact. And it may have been that the opinion consisted of Button not overtaking Hamilton… assuming Hamilton backed off a bit so that both drivers had slowed to a similar pace. However, Hamilton took it to mean that Button would maintain a gap no matter how much Hamilton slowed. It’s unfortunate, probably a little embarassing, but I wouldn’t say he’s being made a scapegoat. It’s simply an explanation which, I believe, makes sense.

    4. Phil Prew is the chief engineer. He’s not Hamilton’s or Button’s “personal” engineer.

  6. I hope both drivers can bury the hatchet now.

    I don’t think there was too much animosity between them but Hamilton was quite reasonably a bit miffed.

    Whatever the outcome of the championship, one of the most interesting aspects this year is the straight fight between these two in identical cars. I don’t mind which one wins this battle but I hope I can go on enjoying a fair fight (as it has been so far).


  7. I’m happy to give McLaren the benefit of the doubt on this one. PP made an error with informing LH, and JB took advantage. Which for us, means we saw some overtaking!

  8. Whether it was Prew’s mistake or not is a matter of opinion. What this does do is highlight, and not for the first time this season, that Hamilton is frequently marginalised by the orders from his team.

    Surely the other senior management on the pitwall are able to hear what Prew was telling Hamilton and that he had given an incorrect order to one of their drivers and should have been corrected instantly rather than let to have developed in to the on track elbowing that came as a result.

    Cynically I wonder if they are making Prew the scapegoat to protect the team from the lure of the FIA and the wrath of a team orders punishment.

    If I was Hamilton I would be growing ever more paranoid and disgruntled with the way Mclaren in race decision making process seems to always work against him.

    Also I though Prew had moved out of his role as race engineer for Hamilton and more in to a supervisory role between the two cars. Surely if he is giving Hamilton a message that they were to hold ground, he should have given Button the same message.

    1. This whole thing still stinks. I wonder how many more “miscommunications”, pit stop blunders and strange strategies Hamilton will get before people cotton on that he is being stabbed in the back by his own team who obviously want blue-eyed Button to win.

      1. This is getting stupid – for your conspiracy to be true it would mean that Ron Dennis is the only person to work at McLaren in the last ten years who supported Hamilton and wanted him to win. If they wanted a ‘blue-eyed’ driver to win (way to play the racism card there!) then why bother spending all the time and money on Hamilton when he was far from a ‘sure thing’ and not just promote Gary Paffett to getting a proper chance, or sign Andy Priaulx, or Justin Wilson, or Mike Conway or Dan Wheldon or one of any number of white British drivers who win races at various levels of motorsport?

        Hamilton would not have thought twice about trying the move that Button made – he wasn’t afraid to try and gain an advantage over Alonso in his debut season even though it was against what the team had said (it was what caused the implosion of McLaren that season!).

        Scott – just because you have ‘proof’ of one incident it doesn’t automatically mean that every other time you suspected something happened it definitely did.

        1. Scott Joslin
          8th June 2010, 15:27

          Rob – I think you might have missed my point.

          I am not suggesting a conspiracy at Mclaren. Far from it.

          I was stating as fact, that Lewis has been on the rough end of poor decisions and communication from his team this year, which isn’t helped by the fact he relies upon their direction for his understanding of the race, unlike Button who for example in Wet conditions is happy to think for himself.

          If my point suggests anything it is that Mclaren have exposed a weakness in the area of reacting to the on track events and providing decisive communication and information to Lewis.

          If I am insinuating anything it is that Lewis is likely to be disappointed by the frequency of this errors from the team.

      2. Prisoner Monkeys
        8th June 2010, 15:20

        Why would the team want Button to win? If anything, they have a vested interest in Hamilton’s success, and so Button is the one they’d be sabotaging.

        1. Scott Joslin
          8th June 2010, 15:31

          I don’t think Mclaren want Button to win over Hamilton.

          I just think Mclaren are clumsy and error prone which has inadvertently hampered Hamilton slightly this year.

          1. I think Whitmarsh does though. I think he is pushing Button for the championship to make his decision to sign him look great.

            Hamilton was Ron’s wonder boy and doesn’t have the star treatment everyone seems to think he has in the team now.

            I don’t get how McLaren’s was a miscommunication but Red Bull’s was favouritism. Both are drivers not being told that they are going to be passed by their teammates.

          2. Its funny how quickly people forget about Button’s dodgy pit stop in Spain and the bung left in Button’s car at Monaco.

  9. It does not change anything IMO, as Phil is the overhead Engineer for both drivers. Button is just an opportunist who got it wrong too as he thought he could outwit Hamilton on a normal dry day. Had he succeeded in that move, he would put himself both psychologically and points-wise in the lead and it would have been a big blow to the ego of LH. Thank goodness it did not workout well for him :-)

    In all, lesson learned for Mr. Hamilton. He kind of expected that move from Button though, if not there wouldn’t be any reason for him to enquire from the team.

    I do also have the feeling Martin Whitmarsh wants to wash his hands off someone this time around and Phil playing the scapegoat :-(

    1. Maybe they can fire Phil over this; they sacrafied a scapegoat before (OZ 09) …
      If LH did not take JB back, I think an all out war would have erupted as they were clearly expected to finish as they were with no threat from other teams.
      I doubt LH expected the move (he stated his surprise), but indeed: lessons learned. They are clearly not mates, just like at Red Bull. Better for us though: racing guaranteed till the end, even when a team is scoring a 1-2; unlike in the past.
      I’m loving the fact that all the simmering tension is now slowly erupting, the gloves are clearly off now. And team PR departments are obviously working overtime trying to spin the obvious.
      Didn’t Whitmarsch personnally stick his head out to contract JB over the winter ? He’s not going to condemn him publicly then, is he ?

      1. I don’t see why people think they even need a scapegoat. It was a minor error in comunication, which resulted in some close but fair racing, even if it was a bit unecessary/unerving from a McLaren perspective. They needed a scapegoat last year because there was actually a scandal and the rules were brkoen. All we saw the other week was two drivers passing each other. The reasons for it happening may be interesting, but not particularly scandolous unless people get carried away with conspiracy stories. (for) Sure, Hamilton will be annoyed, but he’d have been annoyed had he suffered a blowout or brake fail etc. and nobody would have been fired for that. McLaren won the race!

        1. I agree matt, the idea that they need a “scapegoat” for a 1-2 finish with a thrilling inter-team battle, is pretty funny.

      2. I agree with this. Lewis is wiser b/c of this folly. Lewis claims that he was given a target speed to achieve. This was not accounted for in Whitmarsh explanation. Prew may have been wrong, but he did give a definite “no” in his response to Lewis. I think there is lots not being said in this, but at least now Lewis knows the dynamic of his team and he will race to the end.

        Good luck Lewis.

  10. /tldr

    bored if this now… who cares

    We moan when there isn’t any overtaking, then try to lay blame on individuals outside of the car when there is… If it all comes down to fuel mixture settings, lifting off in turn 8 – etc etc, then we really aren’t “racing” are we? This is just a tech show-down with badly co-ordinated rules and instruction. A real shame that it’s coming to this, as F1 is a passion i and most others here have had all our lives. How about 24 teams with one driver each?? Would that not solve these problems??

    1. You have a point here. But there was a clear threat of overtaking leading up the incidents with 4 cars within 2 seconds of each other. None of them could relax.
      Better than Bahrain, where they were just following each other around without this threat …

  11. Hope this all true, if it is boo McLaren, starting to underapreciate what they got, this being how they lost Alo Alo Alo.

    On the other hand Hamilton should be learning a lesson as well, he’s got to rely on his own instincts and judgement a little more. Teams are faliable an not currently going round the race track.

    1. On the other hand Hamilton should be learning a lesson as well, he’s got to rely on his own instincts and judgement a little more.

      I agree. I think if there is one criticism you can make of Hamilton (on the track, at least), it is that he relies too much on the team, even at the expense of his own better judgement.

      Today’s round-up has the footage of Hamilton driving into Raikkonen in Canada two years ago: I remember how almost immediately, the press and the forums were trying to make excuses for him, saying that the team should have warned him that the red light was on. Ditto with China ’07: apparently the team should have brought Lewis in to change his tyres earlier on, rather than it simply being a case of Lewis not being careful enough going into the pits. It strikes me as a driver who does not – indeed, is not allowed to – learn from his mistakes because somehow, it’s always somebody else’s fault.

      Admittedly this is all a long time ago now, and Hamilton has matured a lot since then, but perhaps the incident in Turkey shows that Lewis still has a bit to learn in this regard. I suspect he’ll be pretty well unstoppable once he does, though.

  12. JB just signalled with his overtake that he’s not going to roll over – up to LH to learn the lesson, which I’m sure he will.
    Or he might get the impression that Maclaren is starting to favour JB – and then, well, when is his contract up exactly ?

  13. If this was a genuine mistake Whitmarsh, why didn’t you respond quicker rather then just let it fester for days and “hoped for the best”.

    I reckon Phil Prew by mistake, has pritty much given us the mindset of the McLaren agenda this year which wasn’t to hard to already believe. McLaren needed to think up a believable excuse to try and divert the press and to end it there and then.

    Lets see how well Phil gets treated for this season and next, if for some weird reason he gets the boot we all know why…

    BTW what are we going to call this “incident” “fuel-gate”?

    1. Oh please let’s not make a ‘gate’ out of this!

      1. Agreed! The 1st time I got tired of things becoming -gate is already several years ago. Also, there is very little to point to a conspiracy here.

        I stopped watching at almost every F1 forum I tend to visit, as all have been filled with “jenson vs. Lewis”/”Vetel vs Webber” and McLaren/Red l Bull team-order arguing. All with two sides talking past each other, which is easy as those sides refuse to listen to each other, and are only interested in sating their own view of how of how things are. I guess it is just the internet at work, but please let us not do it here.

      2. How about “Phil-Gate”?

        yer, I like “Phil-gate”….

    2. The information about being “buddies” and enjoying themselves came immediately after the event from both drivers, so it was not as explosive.
      Further Withmarsh knew, he was getting this phone in to get into detail before the next GP, so why attract any attention with extra press statements

      I suppose McLaren were keen to have the Red Bull team getting a lot of negative publicity in the last 10 days and not too keen on bringing their own story into that.

  14. Dear Martin Whitmarsh, why this, why now, where is Jenson’s chatter? If it is so that you are desperately trying to write your own legacy then please, please Martin, do it on your own time, your own dime and your own back and not on the back of the most exciting driver this decade has seen in F1. Jenson is a damn good choice and deserves our respect, BUT, he is by no means an Alonso nor is he Lewis just as much as you will never be Ron Dennis. If this kind of respect and adoration and or history it is that you desire then you should have bought out the Minardi team and make it what McLaren is now. Martin, thanks to Ron you are there not despite of Ron. History will be written and the side notes won’t be Ron and definitely not Lewis I am pretty sure! Really Jenson is blokishly nice guy and great fun to listen to, yet still, he will never be held in as high a regard as either Lewis or Alonso just like Ron will never be regarded as a “Handlanger”. You are a manager but Ron is way out your league he is a builder he molded McLaren from the ground up with sweat blood and passion his will and desire are a force of nature and faith stood by him. Who is Martin Whitmarsh but a mere manager. I am sure you have his trust but I am also sure you are beginning to loose a great part of the spiky first-class McLaren fan base. We love racers we and we love McLaren so Martin, do write your legacy go on and buy out HRT – make history – mold them into a Spanish McLaren but please stop messing with the best horse in your crop. all the best michael

    1. Well said I agree whole heartedly. .

  15. This was certainly no mistake from Phil, and moreover, Phil Prew is NOT Hamilton’s engineer, he is the PRINCIPAL ENGINEER for the whole team. This means that NO decision is taken regarding both drivers in the race without Phil’s knowledge. Subsequently, he would have known the lap delta time given to Lewis, and if any was given to Jenson or not. He would also have known that Lewis’s lap time would mean he would be overtaking by Jenson.

    McLaren are in damage limitation mode. I believe they tried to engineer a Button win, and tried to make it look like racing between teammates. They knew Lewis would not let Jenson through a la team orders.

    As i earlier asserted, it makes more sense for Jenson to win, as it would mean McLaren would be leading both championships(Drivers by 5 points). Lewis’s win only brings him to 3rd, whilst Jenson is 2nd. A less ideal situation.

    Bringing Phil into the picture only serves to show that they are really trying hard to shift the focus off the suspected favouritism for Button that this issue has highlighted. By shifting the blame unto a scapegoat, they think it will silence the naysayers.

    Unfortunately, they have not done a good job of it.
    Question is – why would Martin wait all this time to bring this to light? Why are they releasing snippets of info on a daily basis regarding what happened? Because they are looking at the public response and reacting accordingly. I bet this is not the last we hear of this from Martin.

  16. Keith, i’m really surprised you allowed Martin Whitmarsh to get away with so much tripe. There are so many glaring inconsistencies in this saga, and you undoubtedly took it “easy” on him.
    I would have loves to ask him a few questions myself!

    1. In these phone-in interviews you get one question and not usually much chance to follow up. The question I asked him was:

      “Could you put us in the picture concerning what happened between Jenson and Lewis at Turkey? After Lewis got the message Jenson wouldn’t pass him, how soon after did Jenson overtake? And why did Lewis get that message given that Jenson was so close behind him and going quicker than he was?”

      There were others on the phone in, the person after me asked another question about Turkey, the rest all asked different things (some of which you can read Whitmarsh’s responses to here: http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2010/06/08/montreal-and-valencia-an-opportunity-whitmarsh/ )

      1. Thanks for the info Keith.
        On a different note,is there any chance we will get a “modify post” button on the forum at some point in the future? As much as i try to proof read my comments, i always find some elementary spelling mistakes afterwards..even when i use a spell checker!

      2. I have to say, good questions.

      3. hi keith,
        did you talk to Whitmarsh?
        “Speaking to Whitmarsh during the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in I asked him”…

        it’s pretty similar to the formula1.com interview.


        how do these phone in sessions work actually?did formula1.com quote you?

        1. About six or seven people were in the call, typically each person asks a question, sometimes there’s time for some extras at the end. Everyone hears the full session and can use whatever they like from it. There was someone from formula1.com in on the call, so no they aren’t quoting me.

      4. Way to go Keith!! You always seem to get the most information among all journalists. I remember a similarly piercing question you had asked Lewis Hamilton during the 2010 pre-season testing.

        Nice scoop-up.

        Autosport are now publicizing the same story without crediting you!!

        1. Just to be clear, they aren’t (see my reply above).

  17. What I would love to know is what was said to the drivers AFTER Hamilton re-took the place..!!

    1. Hamilton probably switched off the radio by that time haha..

  18. Andy Leatham is Lewis’s engineer and Andreasen is Jenson’s. Phil is their supervising engineer.

  19. Somehow the more fiery pairing of Massa-Alonso as widely contested for the battle between teammates during pre-season has taken a back seat with the highly unlikely Jenson-Hamilton and Vettel-Webber now staking their claim over the much coveted title :)

    1. You don’t suppose that is because they do not have that much to fight for at this moment?

      They certainly are not fighting it out for race wins, or podiums.

      1. Plus Alonso is generally quicker than Massa, so to some extent the point is moot. Most of the predictions of fireworks at Ferrari (those that weren’t just wishful thinking, that is) were based on Massa being unexpectedly as fast as, or faster than, Fernando.

        1. I thought the predictions of fireworks would be if Alonso got a bit ‘ruthless’ (as in overtaking into the pits) and Massa threw a hissy-fit for that- and for generally being beaten. That was my prediction anyway. I think you can tell that my opinion of Massa is pretty low next to Alonso lol.

  20. Isn’t the whole point of Mclaren having all the engineers in the garage to improve communication and stop mistakes just like these happening? All Phil Prew had to do was walk a couple of steps to Jensons engineer after Lewis asked the question.

    I dont really want to get caught up in the conspiracy theories but it was a big blunder by Mclaren considering they made big changes this season to stop events such as this one unfolding.

    They are lucky to get away with it in my opinion.

    1. Considering how it was revealed that Webber’s engineer refused to tell him to let Vettel pass him, I wonder why people think it’s impossible that Button’s engineer bluffed about how much fuel he had and what the delta time would be, therefore allowing him the chance to overtake Hamilton?

  21. Why is everybody (including Whitmarsh) making such a big mountain out of this molehill? There are two drivers in the team, with distinct driving styles, yet able to compete with each other in the same car.
    Hammy is a fighter, but Jenson takes his time and chooses the moment.
    So, under instruction to save fuel, Hammy, being in the lead, does what hes told and even slows enough that it opens a window for Button to take the opportunity and at least have a go before the end of the race.
    Isn’t that what these guys are paid to do? Isn’t that what we pay to watch? Nobody has said anything wrong, it was down to the drivers on the track to seize the moment.
    And if you think about it, it was the same for Vettel and Webber too. Webber was caught dozing by Vettel, who forgot just how long his car is…….

    1. I Agree,

      I think people are too quick to jump to random and even conflicting conspiracies.

      1. If this matter was to simply have both drivers race naturally, then why issue instructions for the leading driver to turn their engine down.
        In both situations this was the case, making it easier for the driver behind to catch up. in normal racing conditions neither of the two trailing drivers would have had a chance to get so close so quickly to even attempt an overtaking manoeuvre.
        Just wish all the underhanded pitwall meddling would stop so we can watch honest racing. . .

  22. why dont they just finish the race 15 laps early, if teams are going to short fill their cars and tell them to back off to make it to the end whats the point in the final quarter of the race.

    1. Something like the Stewards/Race Control monitoring teams engine settings, and stopping the race when it was past 75% AND the top 10 were fuel saving?

      If they announce it beforehand, the teams just short fill a bit more to be just as much on the edge, of course. Maybe something like:
      “Race Control: race will end in 5 laps from now – please race to the end”. But they can’t enforce it, unless a penalty if you have too much fuel ie. were too careful, meaning that again races would be only finally decided well after the race, which is not so good.

      I think that there were good indications McLaren were rather close to the edge, fuel-wise, with Hamilton in Turkey – maybe it will lead teams to be a bit more generous when they fuel their cars in future races!

      1. I don’t think anyone was “short filled.” Turkey is a high-consumption track. As there is only one monocoque for the year (and no-refueling), the cars obviously are built to carry just enough for Turkey and probably a bit less, in favor of the rest of the calendar. So I don’t see this situation recurring, except maybe at Monza. It could be that with the F-Duct, McLaren is more efficient where there are long straights, and thus may gamble on starting slightly light. Anyway, as we saw, RBR was fuel-critical too.

        Of course if there were refueling, the teams could manage the strategy to ensure the ability to race to the end. So this conservation race at Turkey is just more lameness brought to you by the refueling ban.

        1. Yes but when we had re-fuelling and two team mates were out front the race was nullified and positions held after the last pit stop which may have only been at 2/3rds distance.

  23. martin bell
    8th June 2010, 13:50

    Didn’t we all enjoy just watching them battle for the lead? Who cares what went on on the radio, what was said to whom and when? Jenson laid down a marker, Lewis responded with one on his own – they’re racing drivers, it’s what they do, neither is going to roll over, nor give an inch. Perfect, just what we all want to see, perhaps something that’s been in short supply for the last few years. I am genuinely excited to see how this plays out over the season, now that we know that they are prepared to race each other closely, and fairly. What I can’t get me head round is where some here have the idea that Mclaren would actively want to undermine their star driver, the one they have been nutureing for half his life. It just doesn’t make sense.

    1. I believe that some people for whatever reason are so against Jenson Button that the only way he could pass Hamilton is with the team all working to help him and slow Hamilton down!

      Until this season it seemed nobody had much good to say about Lewis, but now in a team with Jenson he is the lesser of two evils!

      Personally I thought the race was great, and hope that we get a real Senna/Prost battle developing, with it being a shooutout for the championship between the two of them at the last race! Well, I can dream…

  24. Not sure why there is such a huge fuss over this with people having a go at Button or McLaren. This is proper racing done right. They were in fuel save mode but that doesn’t mean you stop racing especially around a relatively fast circuit with some opportunities to sit in slipstreams.

    If Button saw Hamilton lift off excessively and had a real opportunity to go past try he’d be an idiot not to take it. If he wasn’t going to save enough fuel and because of a one lap charge then he’d have had to ease off excessively later in the race with the likely result of Hamilton being able to go back through. Alternatively if he had saved just a little fuel by sitting in behind for some of the last stint fair play to him. Like conserving tires it’s part of racing.

    Look at the Indy500 the same day and you won’t see anyone holding station becuase they were in fuel save mode – you make the right charges into the lead/overtake moves at the right time and then hold on with your finger nails. Both Indy and F1 cars have super accurate measures of how much fuel is left I understand so they can nurse the cars accordingly as individuals. I wouldn’t be surprised if this didn’t open up new tactics at fast tracks (perhaps the new Silverstone) with certain drivers deciding to carry more fuel – then accepting the early time penalty but then winding it all up later in the race with a rev limiter busting charge.

    1. Should say I agree fully with Martin and DGR above as well.

      1. Same. Wanted to make it to the point, but there’s a minimum character thing.

  25. What I’ve learned from all of this in the past week is that true inner team battles do not exist. If there is a threat from behind, and one team car is faster than another, the slower one is expected to move over, and if there isn’t any real threat from behind, then the two are expected to hold position till the end. It all sounds orchestrated to me and it’s very disappointing. From now on, I’ll never really know if Jenson is stuck behind Hamilton because he’s slower and sucks at passing, or if Mclaren have asked him to ‘Save Fuel’.

  26. I think the reason there is so much politics in F1 is because they only race every second week. That gives the general public 2 weeks to come up with all sorts of conspiracy theories because they have nothing better to do and they just cant keep away from F1 for 2 weeks. So I vote that they race every weekend, cause 2 weeks is a very long time for me aswell.. lol..

  27. For sure SOMETHING is not right over at the McLaren garage it is not all peaches and roses, but, the true insult stems from making the drivers say things they don’t feel “all is well, we were just having some fun, so, no worries here!” Why not just come out with the facts immediately and then that’s that?! @ZAHIR is damn right when he asks whether this whole new garage setup plus new engineers for both drivers was installed in order to prevent stuff like this from happening? This isn’t **** happens. No, this is far worse! it’s an insult. Just let the boys race and stop fooling around in garage give’em what they need to get the job done. We are not asking for more just stop this idiocy and foolish toiling around and lies. Whitmarsh set out to please the crowd, “A New McLaren” open up the garage, give people more insight, but, what we have learned now after the Turkey GP is that it is not worth much watching mclaren.com/home “live” broadcast because it is like watching Endemol’s big brother show everything is edited so why should I bother watching let alone being spoon-fed by Whitmarsh? this whole saga sucks big time. but heh the races so far are “goram” exciting!

  28. So, we see the Artful Dodger had an inside man. It simply won’t do to claim Prew merely gave his “opinion” to Hamilton—Hamilton specifically followed-up on the comment to clarify exactly what the situation was. Prew is not paid to give opinions and this explanation makes him look like a fool or a liar. If this is the case Hamilton should hire Hair for his race-day advice.

    And blaming Hamilton for lifting too much in eight is outrageous, because Hamilton’s question to Prew and the resuling answer should have made his speed through 8 irrelevant. Hamilton was trying to save the 1-2 for the team, then not only does his teammate try to nick the spot, the team blame him and him alone for the pit wall breakdown. Prew gets a pass, Dawkins gets off scot-free.

    This is a subtle but very clear message from Whitmarsh that he has the Dawkin’s back, and that Hamilton should watch his own. It’s not about eye-color or street vs. neat. Hamilton is Dennis’ man, Dennis, who once embodied the team, is gone. This happens in every field. The new boss does not want incumbent prodigies telling him how things used to be done, or reminding him of how awesome the old boss was. And regarding what they spent on Hamilton over the years, that is, as they say, sunk-cost.

    Later this year, Webber and Hamilton sign to swap seats for 2012.

    1. I really wonder how peoples brains work sometimes……

      1. i wonder how civilization occurred, it must be an accident.

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

    Any chance they can lift along the straights in Valencia? We might have ourselves a race then!

  30. Y’know, even I at first was suspicious of the “save fuel” order being code for “don’t pass.” But even I’m willing to accept them admitting “we made an oops, okay guys?”

    Save all the conspiracy theory nonsense until we see more evidence. It’s ONE RACE.

  31. Nonsense, anyone that swallows this whopper whole deserves their head examined.

    So here we are two weeks later, and despite the best efforts of an FOM video to try and drag the truth into the open, we still all know nearly nothing.

    The follow-up questions for Whitmarsh this weekend, should include:

    – Hamilton said he was being given a stream of laptime targets. Button said he was not. Can you explain this discrpenacy. Why was Button not being provided with targets. What instruction was being given to him in lieu of targets?
    Pre-podium, JB: “No, not really, all they said to me was [cut off by LH]…[inaudible]… that’s why I did it.”

    – Why did Tim Goss, acting team manager for the weekend, claim that both drivers were being given identical targets?

    – What was the context for the normally careful Phil Prew to base his conjecture that Button would not overtake.
    Was it just his gut-feeling, or did he have access, as principal engineer to both cars and conduit for all radio traffic, to something more substantive?

    – No correction made to that transmitted “opinion” during the race? What did the pitwall expect to happen with one driver being left under the impression the race was over, the other still charging? No one think to offer Hamilton improved situational awareness?

    – Engineers unprofessionally offering opinion as fact, apparently, and team-managers not knowing the basics of what was being transmitted, for a process driven team like McLaren, doesn’t paint a very convincing picture.

    – How many people is McLaren senior management willing to throw under the bus, professional reputations to impugn, how much is it willing to obfuscate and obstruct in the information it provides, in order to either over-protect itself from a charge of team orders, or to protect a driver that pulled a stunt.

    – Why don’t you release the radio transcipt?

    We know how this ends, let’s all save some time. Take our lumps and put this to bed once and for all, settled, instead of this tiring drip-drip of new versions of the story that always conflict all the previous versions that you told us.

    Let’s not wait on more FOM tapes to surface, and another spin on this latest spin.

    1. “we still know nearly nothing”. This apparently does not matter.

  32. Maybe we should move on now from this topic.
    Can we get articles about the Canadadian grand prix perhaps?

  33. Pretty straight forward comments from Whitmarsh. McLaren should get on with the season and forget about drawing attention to this sort of thing, they need to focus on making the car faster.

    Hamiltons behaviour after the race doesn’t help the team either, on the podium, in the press conference, comments on the BBC podcast were true to form and frankly I’m a bit tired of it. He needs to grow up a bit and stop acting like a kid whose sweets have been stolen.

    I’m more and more put off by the “new generation” of drivers like Vettel and Hamilton because of this type of attitude.


    You are all reading into this far too much.

    I make absolutely nothing more than this than when I first saw it.

    It blatantly was a communications error and Martin Whitmarsh hasn’t made a statement – he has answered Keiths question with a very straight answer.

    There is no favourite at McLaren – a 1-2 at the race gives them maximum points no matter which way around the drivers finish and if this happens alot the team will win the constructors championship – something which they have missed out on a lot recently.

    If they wanted to favour one driver they would put a shirt-filler (or overall-filler if you want to be picky about it) in the other car. By having two fantastic drivers in their cars they are maximizing their chances of winning both championships. In fact, they have twice as much chance of winning the drivers championship with two top-drawer drivers.

    If they favour one they would overturn this apple kart and lose one of their awesome drivers – thus lowering their chances of winning both championships.

    Rant over!

  35. HewisLamilton
    8th June 2010, 21:28

    Forgive me please, but did Whitmarsh not get asked about this overtaking in a press conference?

    Keith says in his article “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.”

    EVERYONE that is asking why is Whitmarsh saying this now, blah blah blah…. Whitmarsh was simply answering a question posed to him during the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. Was he supposed to say sorry, can’t talk about that?

    No conspiracy, no “gate”, just an overtake that has caused too much griping.

    1. HewisLamilton
      8th June 2010, 21:29

      My apologies, I read all of the thread except for the message directly above this one.

      Nicely said djdaveyp .

  36. Personally, I’m satisfied that in the heat of the moment, Hamilton’s engineer simply made a mistake. With the two McLarens leading the race, and at this early stage of the season, there would have been NO good reason for the boys on the pit wall to attempt orchestrating the finish.

  37. I’m just going to assume that Turkey was a miscalculation on behalf of the Red Bull and McLaren teams, and they didn’t expect the laptimes between the top four to be so low (supreme driving from all of them for those first forty laps, too) and as a result short filled all the cars? I know they’re now running it as fine as possible, but the tenth or two lost from running heavier surely is preferable to the half second lost later in the race when needing to lift constantly or running a leaner mix in order to save fuel. Not to mention that even when running heavy, a driver in a car with fresh tyres and all engine power available should be able to defend more effectively. Unless of course every single ‘save fuel’ radio transmission was always just a ‘hold station’ in disguise.

  38. This from Whitmarsh is an insult to our intelligence.
    We may be “ignorant peasants” in his opinion, but this is nothing more than an effort to cover up a blatant mismanagement of their team orders.

  39. Friction in the McLaren camp as should be expected with two talented world championship drivers…

  40. Guys, something to throw out there:

    Without the rim failure on his car in Spain, Hamilton would be leading the world championship 102-93 over Webber. Throw in another 7 points, at least, for what would have been a sure podium in Australia if his team hadn’t cocked up his pit strategy, and Hamilton would additionally have at least a 16 point lead right now.

    No doubt about it; Hamilton has been the best driver so far this year, despite his team undermining him with screwups and a car that isn’t the pacesetter.

  41. A bit late in the day for this, but after listening to the radio transmission again, it is clear that when LH asks “If i back off, is Jenson going to pass me, or not?” The unequivocal “No, Lewis No” reply actually came from Martin Whitmarsh!((http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7IiR6Mgwyk)), not Phil Prew as Martin suggested in this interview. This makes the whole saga really interesting.If confirmed, it would mean Martin is being duplicitous of the whole affair.
    This shoots to pieces the already flawed idea McLaren are trying to advance that Phil Prew gave an “opinion”, and it was a case of “miscommunication.
    I hope the FIA pick up on this. A simple analysis of the voice patterns would show it to be Martin’s.
    Again, this shows, as many people already think that McLaren were really trying to engineer a Button win – Conspiracy theories or not!

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