McLaren’s championship challenge blunted at Suzuka (McLaren race review)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Suzuka, 2010

Both McLaren drivers finished behind the Red Bulls and Fernando Alonso Suzuka. That means both could be eliminated from championship contention at the next race.

More unreliability and a strategic gamble that failed to pay off blunted McLaren’s challenge in Japan.

Jenson Button Lewis Hamilton
Qualifying position 5 8
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’31.378 (+0.209) 1’31.169
Race position 4 5
Average race lap 1’42.657 (-0.492) 1’43.149
Laps 53/53 53/53
Pit stops 1 1

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Jenson Button

Button gambled on starting the race on the hard tyre. But he wasn’t able to improve on his first lap in Q3 and regretted putting in fuel for more than one lap. He qualified sixth and was promoted to fifth by his team mate’s penalty.

Button needed his soft tyre-shod rivals to run into trouble with wear early in the race for his strategy to work. But it didn’t happen, and the early appearance of the safety car further frustrated his cause.

The team stuck to the strategy, keeping him out in the lead and causing Christian Horner to speculate that it was a deliberate ploy to hold up the Red Bulls. But Button pitted before he caused the Red Bulls any great inconvenience, and re-took fourth after Hamilton hit trouble.

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

Lewis Hamilton

Ran wide at Degner halfway through first practice and thumped into the wall, wrenching the left-front wheel off his McLaren. He missed the rest of the session and almost all of second practice.

Despite that he qualified third on the grid, but a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change left him eighth. He avoided a further penalty for holding up Nico H???lkenberg in Q3 after a protest by Williams.

He quickly moved up to fifth at the start but couldn’t do anything to displace Button. Switching to the hard tyres on lap 20 appeared to transform his car and he was catching Alonso for third when he lost third gear.

He spent the rest of the race using only fourth gear and higher, and fell back to fifth behind Button.

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

2010 Japanese Grand Prix

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