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 time comparison (Q3)||1’21.961 (-0.035)||1’21.996|
McLaren drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
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.”
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.”
2011 Spanish Grand Prix
- 2011 Spanish Grand Prix: complete race weekend review
- Vote for the best driver of the Spanish Grand Prix weekend
- Red Bull: Vettel soaks up pressure for fourth win
- McLaren: Hamilton strong on “disastrous” Pirellis
- Ferrari: Alonso stars, Massa struggles
- Mercedes: Rosberg wanted Schumacher to let him pass
- Renault: Heidfeld eighth after “worst fire of my career”
- Williams: Maldonado reaches Q3 but still no points
- Sauber: Kobayashi gets point after puncture
- Force India hold back on aerodynamic upgrade
Image © McLaren