Hamilton keeps his title hopes alive as Button’s fade (McLaren race review)

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Korea, 2010

Second place in Korea keeps Lewis Hamilton within range of the championship leaders heading into the last two races.

But Jenson Button seems destined to lose his championship crown. He struggled for pace in the rain and slumped to a point-less 12th after spinning near the end of the race.

Jenson Button Lewis Hamilton
Qualifying position 7 4
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’36.731 (+0.669) 1’36.062
Race position 12 2
Laps 55/55 55/55
Pit stops 1 1

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Jenson Button

Looked in good shape on Friday but found little grip on Saturday and could only manage seventh on the grid:

This afternoon I couldn?t get the tyres up to temperature and struggled a bit with locking fronts and rears. I didn?t have enough grip and couldn?t find enough pace.
Jenson Button

Button decided to run some new suspension parts but Hamilton chose not to.

In the race he was passed by Michael Schumacher early on and gambled on an early switch to intermediate tyres shortly afterwards.

That left him mired in a pack of cars where he was further delayed by Adrian Sutil squeezing him off the track. He made little progress and a spin in the latter stages compounded a miserable race that all but killed off his championship hopes.

I just didn?t have enough grip today. I was really struggling with locking fronts as soon as I touched the brakes; every time I braked for a corner, I went straight on because I couldn?t stop the car.

Also, I lost three or four places when Adrian decided to drive me off the circuit ?ǣ I don?t know what he was thinking. Even without that, though, I didn?t really have the pace today.

In my view, for sure, the race should have been stopped earlier than it was ?ǣ it was way too dark to race a Formula 1 car in the conditions we witnessed at the end of the afternoon.

To win this championship, I?ll now have to rely on the cars in front of me failing, so today was a pretty disappointing day, all in all.
Jenson Button

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

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton's worn tyres after the race

Hamilton's worn tyres after the race

Fastest in the first practice session but was clearly bemused by Red Bull’s pace in qualifying:

We were very quick in practice, so I don?t know where the Red Bulls found an extra half a second in Q3.
Lewis Hamilton

In the 17 laps spent behind the safety car before the race started, Hamilton repeatedly said the conditions were safe for racing. His comments included:

Conditions are good, it’s getting drier all the time.

It’s no wetter than any other race I’ve ever had.

There’s no aquaplaning at all.
Lewis Hamilton

Once the race started Hamilton dropped behind Nico Rosberg, but he was quickly eliminated by Mark Webber.

He gained a place off Fernando Alonso when the Ferrari drier had a slow pit stop, but at the final restart Hamilton ran wide at turn one and lost the place again.

Finishing second means he is 21 points behind new championship leader Alonso:

At the start, I just wanted to get out there. I love racing, and I thought it was safe enough ?ǣ 17 laps spent running behind the Safety Car isn?t good for the spectators, and it?s not fun for the drivers either. Additionally, I felt it had easily dried up enough for us to start racing ?ǣ so I?m glad we did.

It was very tricky out there, particularly at the end. It was pitch black, I couldn?t see much and my tyres were finished. It was a big surprise to see both Red Bulls go out. Fernando drove really well, but I?m very happy to have scored some points after a couple of disappointing races.

However, ours still isn?t the fastest car: I was losing a lot of time to Fernando, particularly in the final sector. But I?m sure we?ll be working flat-out to fix that back at the McLaren Technology Centre before we head to Brazil.
Lewis Hamilton

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

2010 Korean Grand Prix

Browse all 2010 Korean Grand Prix articles

Images ?? www.mclaren.com, Adam Cooper via Twitpic

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51 comments on Hamilton keeps his title hopes alive as Button’s fade (McLaren race review)

  1. Griggs said on 25th October 2010, 15:31

    I loved Jenson’s spin near the end of the race. It was like his car was on ice, it practically spun on the spot, awesome to watch. :D

  2. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 25th October 2010, 15:34

    I’d question why McLaren didn’t change their cars’ set-ups when waiting for the restart, but it seems only Mercedes though of that so it’s be harsh to single them out. But this year hasn’t been McLaren’s best for strategy…

    I hope Button realises he has the biggest mountain to climb in reclaiming his championship and doesn’t force the team into ordering him into a supporting role, because that’ll produce a lot of bad feeling.

    • DaveW said on 25th October 2010, 15:46

      What can you change in a red flag condition? I have a hard time believing that you can change springs/torsion bars, ride-height, camber, etc, things that matter, in that period, sitting on the grid.

      • Once the race started they are no longer in parc ferme. Teams can change anything they like, as per during the race.

        The reason they don’t under normal circumstances is that you normally loose a few laps :)

    • I did wonder why all the teams were fiddling with set ups too. Mclaren have been ok with strategy, they got China and Aus right at least with Jenson and Canada when RBR mucked up so I think they’re doing ok but yesterday Jenson really had a nightmare when he came out behind all those cars.

      I think and hope Jenson is sensible enough to realise he’s nearly out of it and isn’t the priority. To be honest though despite his lack of his pace this year is so crazy I refuse to declare his chances dead

  3. DaveW said on 25th October 2010, 15:41

    McLaren need a few tenths, but the Ferrari-McLaren battle is not about the car. If Ferrari had two Massa’s we would be talking about how Ferrari’s engineers are flailing around and how the car is not good. This season is down to 4 guys now looking eyeball to eyeball and seeing who is the most skillfull. Yesterday, Alonso was most skillful, more than Hamilton.

    As for the others, Button needs to curl up with some coffee and a stack of Hamilton’s throttle-brake traces, or something. Massa is leaving half a minute in the car race by race now. Not good. Webber and Vettel are still suspect when it comes down to a serious dice.

    This season has affirmed that Hamilton is the only guy who can match Alonso in a straight fight with comparable cars, and if he gets one he might just make this interesting in Abu Dhabi. Otherwise, I don’t see Webber or Vettel beating him, even with their superior cars.

    However, McLaren rolled out the super F-Duct this time, they have on their EBD, they have the afterburner. The need a massive technical coup now, and I don’t see that coming now. They may need to try on that lowering device they proposed in their “clarification” disdcussion about RBR’s Q3 behaviour and see how grey the rules can get in that area.

  4. McLaren need a few tenths, but the Ferrari-McLaren battle is not about the car. If Ferrari had two Massa’s we would be talking about how Ferrari’s engineers are flailing around and how the car is not good.

    Equally the same could be said if you put to Buttons in the car (from the start of the European session anyway)

    Or if you put the RBR drivers in Mclaren, IMO we would be saying the same.

    Mclarens race pace benefit seems to have gone since they fitted the blown diffuser, the Ferrari has always been the kindest on their tyres all year and the Mclaren seems to have gotten worse with the extra down force they have found.

    • Younger Hamilton said on 25th October 2010, 23:45

      I dont think its completely gone afterall Jenson was able to do a lap during the race in Suzuka which was 0.055secs off the fastest lap set up Webber and didnt Lewis have the fastest lap in Spa and also in Silverstone when McLaren too off their blown diffuser Lewis did a lap time which was under 4 tenths of a second off Webber’s and under 8 tenths under Vettel’s.Overall i think they continued to concentrate on improving their Qualifying pace.

  5. Cacarella said on 25th October 2010, 16:02

    “In the 17 laps spent behind the safety car before the race started, Hamilton repeatedly said the conditions were safe for racing. His comments included:”

    I believe he also said ‘This track is almost ready for Intermediates!’ (or something along those lines).

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th October 2010, 16:06

      And he wasn’t far wrong – some drivers changed to intermediates two laps after the safety car came in. For me that’s a big hint they left it too late.

  6. mikeycool said on 25th October 2010, 16:02

    Just checked out the Webber crash video, he did actually turn his wheel right quite abit after he scrapped along the wall….

  7. kbdavies said on 25th October 2010, 16:52

    As i have said before, Jenson really ought to be ashamed of himself this race. Finishing in 12th, unable to overtake a Torro Rosso, Saubers, then being overtaken by a Force India – whilst your teammate, in the SAME car finishes 2nd, is quite shameful.It is almost reminiscent of a Kova.
    Attempts to put a glossy spin on his under par performance by saying “He struggled for pace” is just glossy spin. Remember, he equaled his lowest ever finish in a Honda! I doubt that Lewis would have been stuck behind that gaggle for too long. In fact, everybody in that group fought harder to overtake than Jenson did (albeit with some disastrous results), but at least, they tried!

    Whilst some may say Lewis was gifted 2nd in the race, the point is he qualified 4th, and would probably have finished 4th, or 5th, if the 2 RBR’s finished the race.
    This was another nail in the coffin to the ridiculous claims that Jenson is better on his tyres, or is some master svengali strategist. Again, as he had done before, he gambled, because he had nothing to lose as his tyres were shot, and this time, as in Shanghai, it did not pay off. Note that Lewis pitted on Lap 33 – a full 5 laps after Jenson, and would have gone longer, but decided to take advantage of the the safety car prompted by Buemi’s mishap. Also, the leading cars of Vettel and Alonso also pitted on lap 34 only to cover each other. Fact is, at this stage, all the front runners tires were not in the best shape, but they could still drive on them.

    I have nothing against Jenson, he is a good driver, but thats all he is. Days like Sunday show that he cannot consistently perform at the level of top tier drivers like Lewis or Alonso. On race pace, he has been consistently outperformed by his teammate to the tune of 2/10th – 4/10th – all year round. If thats not a drubbing – between 2 WDC’s, then i don’t know what is.

    Saying all this, it is a reflection of how inconsistent McLaren development program has been this year, Qualifying 7th on the grid, with 2 races to go, shows that something has really gone wrong. Both Jenson, and Lewis have really flattered the car this year, putting places it didn’t belong; and this has really masked McLarens disastrous development on the MP-25.
    Barring a suspension of naturals laws, They cannot win either championship this year – even if they put their weight behind Lewis, and they will not win next year’s either. I still predict a driver movement this year in the McLaren and Red Bull camps, because win or lose, Mark Webber will not be staying at Red Bull.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th October 2010, 16:55

      Attempts to put a glossy spin on his under par performance by saying “He struggled for pace” is just glossy spin.

      Something tells me kbdavies doesn’t like “glossy spin”.

      I don’t agree it is though – he clearly struggled and he clearly had little pace, and the quote explains why. No gloss, no spin. (Except for Button. His car looked glossy and he did spin.)

      • kbdavies said on 25th October 2010, 17:16

        LOL!, but my comment is too short!

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 28th October 2010, 20:35

        Nice play on words there Keith.

        Actually I think Button might have done better if not for Sutils aggressive drive (quite a lot of other drivers will want Trulli to bring along those pictures of last year with him again for next drivers briefing) and the pitstop only shortly before the SC ruined him making any gains from it.

    • Is it just Button you detest, or any team mate of Lewis?

    • tharris19 said on 25th October 2010, 22:57

      “Both Jenson, and Lewis have really flattered the car this year, putting places it didn’t belong; and this has really masked McLarens disastrous development on the MP-25″.

      I totally agree, this car has not been able to make a decent right or left turn all season no matter what part they have put on it. This was discussed on this site back at Silverstone. McLaren kept saying they were improving the car at most of the races only to come up short.
      Their drivers have been trying to compete with a turd of a car all year and should be commended for their effort.

  8. sumedh said on 25th October 2010, 17:01

    Jenson is still saying that he is in the championship, as he is theoretically only 17 points behind Alonso, same as Kimi.

    But I don’t think so. Kimi won because in those space of 17 points, there were only 2 drivers, Jenson has 4. Plus, Kimi was faster than his team-mate, in both wet and dry. Jenson is slower, in dry and in wet as well now. I hope he gives up on his title defence and supports Hamilton.

    • He reminded of everyone of the mathematics, this is all for his sponsors more than anything else.

      In this hypothetical situation in Brazil:
      Jenson Leads, Lewis Second, Alonso Third.

      Jenson would give his place to Lewis without needing to be asked by the team because mathematically in that situation he could not win the WDC.

  9. SparkyJay23 said on 25th October 2010, 17:13

    All this talk of Jenson supporting Lewis is tosh. For that to be viable Jenson has to be faster than LEwis AND HIS RIVALS, and as we have seen that really isn’t the case. McLarens perfect result is jenson finishing 2nd behing Lewis and i think we can all admit that isn’t going to happen.

    • Mike-e said on 26th October 2010, 2:51

      he could short fuel his car massively, say put half a tank in, get passed everyone, back them up to try to help lewis pass, then cruise around to save fuel and hold them up while being lapped and eventually retire. Its possible if he was willing to be a ‘sacrificial lamb’.

  10. Feynman said on 25th October 2010, 17:47

    #suggestions

    Would it be at all possible to lose the redflag lap from the laptime chart, to give the y-axis a chance to re-scale itself?

  11. Vishy said on 25th October 2010, 17:52

    Somehow I get the feeling McLaren is faster than it looked this weekend. It is likely that once they put on EBD they have lost the advantage they had in wet. However in the dry they might be able to match atleast Ferrari if not Red Bull.

    I still feel it is Webber’s title to lose. But Alonso is looking majestic. Addmitted he has had lot of luck off late but he has driven sensationally!

  12. SPIDERman said on 25th October 2010, 18:19

    from this link see the likely outcomes of how each of the top contenders can win the WDC
    http://www.gpupdate.net/en/f1-news/245845/two-to-go-the-championship-situation/

  13. I think the drivers’ title is out of reach for Hamilton. He HAS to beat Alonso in Brazil, but I really don’t think the car will be up to the job. And I feel that Alonso’s engines will be fine.

  14. bigredbears10 (@bigredbears10) said on 25th October 2010, 20:55

    I have a few questions about the McLaren, maybe to be answered by those more technically gifted.
    – What was the different part on Jensen’s car? I had heard it was a suspension part, but could that account for his difficulties with getting heat into the tires in qualy and the race?

    – Both cars looked extremely slow on the straights during the race. F-duct not as advantageous in the rain, or were they just lacking in traction off of the corners and unable to make up the ground lost?

  15. damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 26th October 2010, 1:47

    Does anyone else find it hilarious how Button says it was too dark to race near the end of the race whereas Hamilton said “Light Level is fine!” on the team radio? For me, this just further proves that the drivers couldn’t care less about safety, rather their own position and what it would mean for their championship prospects. That said, I was most disappointed in the Red Bull drivers for not even wanting the race to go ahead. That was one of the most selfish things I have ever witnessed.

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