Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, McLaren, Istanbul, 2011

McLaren: Hamilton salvages fourth after battling with Button

2011 Turkish GP team reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton recovered to fourth after a lengthy battle with Jenson Button and a slow pit stop.

Lewis Hamilton Jenson Button
Qualifying position 4 6
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’25.595 (-0.387) 1’25.982
Race position 4 6
Laps 58/58 58/58
Pit stops 4 3

McLaren drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2011drivercolours.csv
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58
Lewis Hamilton 98.852 95.201 95.117 94.858 94.554 94.785 95.175 95.619 96.351 109.806 93.962 93.231 94.493 93.036 93.832 93.781 93.862 94.073 94.865 95.871 109.02 93.581 93.927 92.848 92.709 92.829 92.762 92.572 92.671 92.521 92.065 92.228 92.345 92.897 123.217 91.586 91.746 91.229 91.38 91.85 91.24 91.203 90.783 90.906 90.91 91.053 107.331 90.108 90.139 90.417 91.001 90.777 90.664 90.786 90.575 90.438 90.86 91.292
Jenson Button 98.351 95.219 95.133 94.96 94.443 95.183 95.415 94.872 95.283 94.788 94.926 95.42 96.239 110.875 94.2 94.196 94.013 93.728 93.975 94.257 95.161 93.901 94.67 93.717 93.904 93.404 110.607 92.928 92.518 93.887 93.301 93.471 94.278 93.255 92.291 92.523 92.968 92.864 92.729 108.263 92.332 92.454 91.715 91.524 91.803 91.361 91.167 91.557 91.78 91.819 91.699 92.082 91.765 92.852 93.286 93.306 93.65 94.721
Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, McLaren, Istanbul, 2011
Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, McLaren, Istanbul, 2011

Lewis Hamilton

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 ?ǣ 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?re as keen to beat each other as they are to beat any other driver, and that?s 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.

Lewis Hamilton 2011 form guide

Jenson Button

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?t, and I was able to put a couple of laps on everyone and my tyres still felt pretty good ?ǣ but I felt the next two stops were earlier than the tyres could have done, which is disappointing.

“We didn?t leave the stops late enough ?ǣ 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.

Jenson Button 2011 form guide

2011 Turkish Grand Prix

Browse all 2011 Turkish Grand Prix articles