Lewis Hamilton recovered to fourth after a lengthy battle with Jenson Button and a slow pit stop.
|Lewis Hamilton||Jenson Button|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q3)||1’25.595 (-0.387)||1’25.982|
McLaren drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
McLaren did very little running in the wet session on Friday, believing the rain was going to stay and they would benefit from saving wet weather tyres. That turned out not to be the case.
Hamilton could only manage fourth on the grid. He went out for a second run in Q3 but he couldn’t gain any places, although he did improve his time.
He hounded the slow-starting Mark Webber and tried to go around the outside of the Red Bull at turn four as he had done to Vettel 12 months previously. But he found himself sliding to the edge of the road and Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button overtook him.
Hamilton spent his first stint passing and getting re-passed by his team mate. Shortly after he had seemingly passed Button for good, his tyres went off and Button re-passed, followed shortly by Felipe Massa.
Martin Whitmarsh said of the battle between the two: “We’ve traditionally never sought to prevent our drivers from racing each other ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ and they certainly did that today.
“It was good to see: they get on extremely well off the track, as I think everyone knows, but on the track they?óÔé¼Ôäóre as keen to beat each other as they are to beat any other driver, and that?óÔé¼Ôäós the way it should be.”
Hamilton made for the pits, following Massa, who he leap-frogged thanks to a better stop. Massa was close on his tail coming out of the pits but an opportunistic pass on Pastor Maldonado allowed Hamilton to briefly delay Massa’s advances.
His slow third pit stop, caused by a pair of cross-threaded wheel nuts, cost him in the region of 14 seconds. It could have been even more costly had lollipop man Pete Vale not ensured he didn’t get off his marks too quickly when he was finally released.
Fortunately for Hamilton, he was able to get out of the pits just in front of a tightly-knit pack of cars including Rubens Barrichello, Nico Rosberg, Vitaly Petrov, Michael Schumacher, Adrian Sutil and Felipe Massa.
Although he dropped behind Button following his final pit stop he was easily able to pass his team mate for fourth place. But he was rather dismayed, when he asked his team what the gap to third place was, to be told it was half a minute.
Button tried to do the race on three stops, one fewer than his team mate, and found himself in the classic dilemma of race strategy in 2011.
Comparing his and Hamilton’s lap times (above) it’s clear Hamilton usually came into the pits once his tyres were going off. That’s not the case for Button – which indicates the team pitted him earlier for strategic reasons.
The race chart published yesterday supports the view that they were trying to make sure he did not end up stuck in traffic when he came out of the pits.
But these earlier pit stops meant his final stint had to be longer – and that meant he was passed by Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, finishing sixth.
Afterwards he said: “I think most people probably started the race aiming for a three-stopper, but because many of them damaged their tyres in the first stint, they changed their approach.
“We didn?óÔé¼Ôäót, and I was able to put a couple of laps on everyone and my tyres still felt pretty good ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ but I felt the next two stops were earlier than the tyres could have done, which is disappointing.
“We didn?óÔé¼Ôäót leave the stops late enough ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ the tyres were still good at the end of every stop, so we should have stayed out longer because it just made the last stint extremely difficult.”
Of course, had Button’s lap times in his second and third stints been quicker (and comparing his lap times to others shows they might have been), he would have been better off at the end. But he would not necessarily have known he needed to push harder at the time.
But while doing fewer stops did not work out for Button in Istanbul, it may be a different story when Pirelli’s harder development tyres are introduced.
2011 Turkish Grand Prix
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