Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Monaco, 2011

McLaren: Hamilton loses cool after weekend of frustration

2011 Monaco GP team reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

A weekend of mounting frustration for Hamilton culminated in some ill-chosen words before the television cameras after the race.

Lewis Hamilton Jenson Button
Qualifying position 7 2
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’15.280 (+1.283) 1’13.997
Race position 6 3
Laps 78/78 78/78
Pit stops 3 4

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 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78
Lewis Hamilton 94.107 82.345 82.132 81.692 81.484 81.512 81.452 82.46 82.126 80.65 80.014 80.213 81.051 85.639 83.661 80.687 80.439 80.413 81.071 81.73 81.991 106.381 85.304 78.565 78.094 78.647 80.329 80.957 81.207 81.989 81.924 82.547 91.139 133.256 92.51 86.025 84.685 110.774 84.4 82.475 83.234 81.616 93.931 82.195 80.374 80.24 80.513 81.074 101.684 82.593 78.909 78.438 79.522 77.847 79.792 79.271 79.407 79.319 79.106 79.586 79.117 79.436 80.086 78.562 79.15 82.171 83.49 88.666 101.244 95.584 94.314 120.544 83.881 78.764 78.748 79.916 79.124
Jenson Button 87.288 81.034 80.329 80.113 79.845 79.719 79.58 79.543 79.403 79.63 79.519 79.727 79.745 80.349 98.57 81.106 79.072 78.091 78.348 78.203 78.199 78.826 79.134 78.22 78.285 78.452 79.429 80.202 78.306 78.627 79.552 79.171 99.758 89.298 122.904 122.05 117.091 114.602 81.811 78.455 78.139 78.981 79.891 79.775 78.986 79.194 79.047 96.295 81.417 77.894 77.478 77.493 77.89 77.628 78.237 78.087 78.813 77.914 78.15 77.734 77.693 78.376 79.786 79.237 79.772 79.588 80.351 79.991 86.656 129.161 123.951 124.276 78.993 78.282 77.121 76.589 76.463
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Monaco, 2011
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Monaco, 2011

Lewis Hamilton

Were McLaren quick enough to take pole position in Monaco? It’s possible they were. The red flag at the end of third practice meant it was hard to tell for sure.

Button was less than half a second off Sebastian Vettel in Q3, and Hamilton has often been a few tenths quicker than him in qualifying, so perhaps he could have made a fight for it.

But McLaren chose to send him out for a single run in Q3 at Monaco – a risky plan given the possibility of an interruption during the session in a weekend that had already seen three red flags. Sure enough, it backfired.

Hamilton only got one run in after the session restarted following Sergio Perez’s crash – and that time was deleted when he was found to have cut the chicane, leaving him ninth on the grid. “We probably should have put a banker in,” he reflected, “I had the pace to be on pole”.

Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Monaco, 2011
Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Monaco, 2011

He got past Michael Schumacher at the start but the Mercedes driver ran into him at Sainte Devote, breaking part of his rear wing (zoom in on the picture to see).

This briefly convinced Hamilton he had a puncture – “I have a flat tyre, right-rear” he told the team. Schumacher took the opportunity to re-pass him at the hairpin.

Hamilton took the place back on lap ten, diving down the inside of Schumacher at Sainte Devote. Schumacher saw him coming at the last moment and gave the McLaren room – much as Hamilton had at the hairpin on the first lap.

He latched onto the back of a five-way battle for fifth headed by Nico Rosberg. Unable to make a move on Vitaly Petrov, the team called Hamilton into the pits to try to take advantage of the ‘undercut’.

In Hamilton’s terse words after the race: “They said ‘[pit] to overtake’, I came in, and they weren’t there”. Despite the slow stop he was able to leapfrog Petrov and Maldonado, but not Massa.

Having switched to super-soft tyres he began attacking Massa, who was on softs. But a passing attempt at the hairpin ended in contact. Massa briefly stayed ahead, but crashed as Hamilton passed him in the tunnel.

The stewards handed down a drive-though penalty for “causing an avoidable accident”. Hamilton’s sarcastic reaction when he was told hinted at his frustration: “Surprise, surprise. I know the stewards love me, really”.

Having fallen to ninth, Hamilton passed Petrov at Tabac only to be caught up in the mayhem at the swimming pool on lap 69. Braking to avoid Adrian Sutil’s Force India, he was hit from behind by Jaime Alguersuari.

This left him with a broken rear wing which ordinarily would have ended his race. But the stoppage allowed the team to work on his car and repair the damage, allowing him to continue.

Hamilton resumed behind Pastor Maldonado who was running on soft tyres. Using the grip advantage of his super-softs at the restart he made to pass the Williams at Sainte Devote much as he had taken Schumacher earlier. But Maldonado stuck to his line and the pair collided, dumping the Williams into the barriers.

He reeled in Kamui Kobayashi for fifth but didn’t make it past the Sauber. Not that it would have made a difference, as the stewards gave him a 20-second time penalty for the collision with Maldonado. With the next car a lap down it made no difference to his finishing position.

His latest appearance before the stewards led to a stream of criticism which can be read here. He later retracted his comments.

Lewis Hamilton 2011 form guide

Jenson Button, McLaren, Monaco, 2011
Jenson Button, McLaren, Monaco, 2011

Jenson Button

Button started from the front row of the grid and defended his position firmly to stay there at the start.

He dropped back from Vettel initially before cutting his lead back to around three-and-a-half seconds.

Then McLaren surprised both Vettel and third-placed Fernando Alonso by bringing Button in for another set of super-soft tyres.

Both teams reacted, putting their drivers onto soft tyres. The benefit of pitting first plus Vettel’s slow pit stop put Button in the lead.

He pulled out a 13-second margin which was not enough to make a pit stop and retain the lead. McLaren brought him in again on lap 33 for more super-softs.

The timing was unfortunate, as the safety car came out just one lap later: “I suppose, Monaco Grand Prix, you always have to expect safety cars but you always hope they don?t happen when you are on a three-stop strategy”, he said afterwards.

As the race restarted the team advised Button on the radio he needed to pass Vettel. Despite being at least a second and a half faster in clean air, Button couldn’t find a way past.

Button’s pit stop for the mandatory change to soft tyres left him third, behind Alonso.

For lap after lap Vettel, Alonso and Button circulated, the three separated by half a second. Button found Alonso hard to pass as the Ferrari driver was able to use DRS in his pursuit of Vettel.

The race suspension put paid to any hopes Button had of taking advantage of the drivers in front of him having worn tyres.

He said: “Fernando, I?m sure, was filling Sebastian?s mirrors and he got very close a couple of times into turn one, and into the last corner, so you don?t know.

“Anything could have happened over those ten laps that we would have had if we hadn?t had the safety car.”

Jenson Button 2011 form guide

2011 Monaco Grand Prix

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Images ?? McLaren, Pirelli, McLaren