McLaren: Hamilton strong on “disastrous” Pirellis

2011 Spanish GP team review

Lewis Hamilton described the new Pirelli tyres as “disastrous” – but used them to good effect on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton Jenson Button
Qualifying position 3 5
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’21.961 (-0.035) 1’21.996
Race position 2 3
Laps 66/66 66/66
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 59 60 61
Lewis Hamilton 96.991 91.189 90.239 90.011 90.083 90.127 90.183 90.464 90.526 90.838 92.882 105.417 89.076 89.875 89.844 89.976 90.001 90.482 89.603 88.024 88.595 89.022 91.408 105.362 87.841 88.047 88.15 87.706 88.09 89.879 88.459 89.61 89.338 90.054 92.869 106.276 88.458 88.371 88.343 88.705 88.516 88.21 88.072 89.434 87.497 87.827 88.268 89.217 90.037 105.301 87.881 86.727 86.911 87.386 88.058 87.879 87.548 87.422 87.655 87.185 87.167
Jenson Button 100.998 93.15 92.804 91.195 91.097 91.635 92.104 92.008 92.05 92.953 91.496 91.684 91.335 93.547 106.433 88.792 89.107 89.463 89.694 89.668 89.626 89.198 89.511 89.811 90.013 89.935 90.05 90.221 90.188 93.425 106.938 88.49 88.995 88.887 89.349 88.991 88.658 89.106 89.168 88.913 89.045 88.735 88.83 89.028 89.168 89.279 89.93 92.247 105.467 88.814 87.92 87.892 88.639 88.013 87.978 88.015 88.612 87.657 87.631 87.878 88.643
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Barcelona, 2011

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Barcelona, 2011

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton was not impressed with his first taste of Pirelli’s new compound hard tyre, describing it as “disastrous” in a media briefing.

But he showed good pace on the car late in the race and hounded Sebastian Vettel to the flag, finishing just six tenths of a second behind the Red Bull.

This was despite qualifying almost exactly a second slower than the RB7s.

Hamilton entertained thoughts of leading by the first corner but he had no answer for Fernando Alonso’s flying getaway and fell to fourth.

He gained a place from Mark Webber at the first round of pit stops and jumped Alonso at the second.

In his third stint he cut into Vettel’s lead and continued the process after switching to hard tyres for his fourth stint.

On each of the last 14 laps he came past the pits less than a second behind Vettel; DRS open, KERS activated, trying to make a move into the first corner. But he couldn’t get close enough and said afterwards: “I never had an opportunity to overtake.”

“It was incredible how much downforce he had, a good step on us, and also through turn nine and through the last corner. So I was never ever able to get close enough to maintain the gap that I was then able to use the DRS to get by.”

Lewis Hamilton 2011 form guide

Jenson Button

Button qualified fifth, just three-hundredths of a second slower than his team mate but two places behind him. But he dropped back with a slow start which left him ninth by the first corner.

He passed Massa around the outside of turn four but was held up at turn five and Massa went around him and Sebastien Buemi.

Button spent the next few laps battling with Buemi, eventually getting past on lap five on the exit of turn four.

As has often been the case this year, Button proved able to make the soft tyres last longer. He made his first pit stop five laps after Vettel and came out in sixth, before quickly picking off Michael Schumacher for fifth.

He staved off his next pit stop until lap 30. By this time Alonso and Webber had already made their third pit stops and were now on hard tyres. Button reeled them in with ease and passed both on lap 35.

Webber caught back up to the McLaren later in the race but dropped back as his hard tyres went off, leaving Button secure in third.

Afterwards he commented on how McLaren had been much closer to Red Bull’s pace during the race: “We obviously have upgrades on the car which have helped our performance compared to the cars behind.

“But yeah, to see such a big difference in qualifying, a second to the Red Bull and then see our pace in the race, I was a little bit surprised.

“And the car felt better than what we experienced on Friday. I think the circuit came to us a little bit and maybe the temperatures helped. But the car was much better today than it has been. For me, it?s got better throughout the weekend which is great.”

Jenson Button 2011 form guide

2011 Spanish Grand Prix

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46 comments on McLaren: Hamilton strong on “disastrous” Pirellis

  1. Klaas said on 24th May 2011, 10:45

    McLaren has been a pleasant team to watch this season. Hamilton is putting on great fights with the Bulls. I just wish Button was more aggresive. He is doing a good job in picking up points for the Constructor’s Championship but he’s no near Hamilton. I really miss the McLaren from 2007, even though it was a tense situation in the team, even if it ended in such a drama, that was the most competitive and exciting season the team had for the last 10 years. Hope Button retires soon and Hamilton gets a team-mate of his calibre.

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