2011 Chinese GP team review
Hamilton won for McLaren in Shanghai despite being compromised by his team mate.
|Lewis Hamilton||Jenson Button|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q3)||1’34.463 (+0.042)||1’34.421|
McLaren drivers’ lap times throughout the race:
Following his problems in Malaysia, where a flat-spotted set of tyres in qualifying compromised his race, Hamilton gambled on only running once in Q3. This allowed him to save a set of fresh, soft tyres for the race.
He followed Button past Sebastian Vettel at the start. However Button’s failure to come into the pits when he was first called on lap 13. He stayed out a lap longer, meaning Hamilton had to stay out a lap longer too.
But Hamilton was already struggling with tyre wear and was passed by Vettel and then Felipe Massa. This left him fifth, but now he was on the set of fresh soft tyres he’d saved.
In the next stint, free from having Massa in front of him, he caught Button and dived down the inside of his team mate at the first corner. The pass was successful, but it must have caused a collective intake of breath among those on the pit wall.
Hamilton said: “I knew that I had a pit stop coming up, so I was able to push quite hard in those last few laps and I was very, very good on the brakes into turn 14, very close on the way up to turn 16 and I was able to get a real good tow from him out of the last corner.
“I’m not sure whether he expected me to go on the inside there into turn one but, fortunately, he left me enough space and I was able to capitalise on that and he put up a fair fight but there was nowhere really for him to go, because I was fully up alongside him.”
Hamilton started his final stint seven laps later than leader Vettel. But he still had to pass Nico Rosberg and Massa.
He spent a couple of laps duelling with Rosberg and complained about his driving at one point, telling his team: “Rosberg’s driving is dangerous. He just moved drastically in front of me.”
Hamilton eventually made it past as Rosberg was struggling to save fuel. Two laps later he drafted past Massa on the straight.
With 12 laps to go, Vettel was less than five second up the road, and over a second per lap slower. He defended his place carefully at the hairpin, but Hamilton dived for the inside at turn seven and took the lead with five laps to go.
That sealed his 15th and surely his most memorable Grand Prix victory.
Button out-qualified Hamilton by a few hundredths of a second and converted second place into the lead within seconds of the race starting.
However he missed a call to pit on lap 13 and when he did come in he pulled into the Red Bull pit by mistake. They waved him through but he lost a position to Vettel, who pitted at the same time.
Hamilton passed him at the end of his second stint, leaving him in a battle with Massa and Rosberg.
Button passed the pair of them, but he couldn’t prevent Mark Webber from taking third place off him just two laps from home.
2011 Chinese Grand Prix
- Hamilton: ‘It’s sweeter to win by overtaking’
- 2011 Chinese Grand Prix: complete race weekend review
- Who was the best driver of the Chinese GP weekend?
- McLaren: Button’s pit mistakes almost cost Hamilton
- Red Bull: Poor qualifying gives strategy advantage to Webber
- Ferrari: Montezemolo demands reaction after poor result
- Mercedes: Rosberg beats Ferraris despite fuel worries
- Renault: Points salvaged after poor qualifying
- Sauber: Two penalties in one race for Perez
- Lotus: Kovalainen joins in midfield battle
Image © McLaren