McLaren ran their exhaust-blown diffuser for the first time – despite losing precious testing time with it after Lewis Hamilton crashed on Friday.
But they weren’t able to challenge their main rivals in qualifying or the race and never looked likely to threaten for a podium position.
|Jenson Button||Lewis Hamilton|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q3)||1’14.427 (-0.139)||1’14.566|
|Average race lap||1’18.931 (+0.039)||1’18.892|
Ended his six-race losing streak against Hamilton in qualifying. But his advantage came to naught when he was held up by Sebastian Vettel at the start, dropping him to sixth place.
The team gambled on a long first stint to get him ahead of Mark Webber, which proved successful. Indeed, he almost made it out of the pits ahead of Hamilton.
The MP4-25′s straight line speed advantage kept him safe from Webber at first. Then when the Red Bull driver dropped back with escalating oil temperatures Button was left to follow his team mate home for fifth.
Hamilton crashed in first practice when the car snapped away from him at turn three. He explained what happened:
I up-shifted from third to fourth and this initiated mass wheel spin and caused the car to snap into oversteer. Overall, it was a mistake but the shift didn’t help.
This delayed McLaren’s planned evaluation of their new exhaust-blown diffuser. It left Button to do most of the running in the dry second practice session while Hamilton’s car was repaired. Nonetheless they opted to carry on with the exhaust-blown diffuser.
Hamilton made a better start than Mark Webber in front of him and passed him on the inside of turn one.
He also took Button, who had been slowed by Vettel, on the way out of the corner but had to give best to Webber at turn two, who had kept his momentum by going off the track at the first corner. However Hamilton slipstreamed and re-passed the Red Bull on the way into the turn four hairpin.
His pit stop left him behind Robert Kubica and as the Renault driver stayed out it looked as though Button might be able to get ahead of him after his pit stop. Fortunately for him Kubica pitted, allowing him to lap quickly enough to ensure he stayed ahead of Button.
That’s where he finished, allowing him to increase his championship lead to 21 points. But he urged the team to find more performance from the car:
It was a very tough race today – the car didn’t feel fantastic and the Ferraris and Red Bulls were very fast. We hoped the gap would be closer in the race than it was in qualifying, and it was – but, even so, we’ve got to make up some pace on our main rivals.
We need to go back and figure out where we can improve, and pick it up again very quickly. Today, we did everything we could do – now we just have to work harder than ever to get ahead of the cars in front.
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