2011 Monaco GP team review
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 time comparison (Q3)||1’15.280 (+1.283)||1’13.997|
McLaren drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
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”.
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.
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.”
2011 Monaco Grand Prix
- New video of Maldonado and Hamilton’s Monaco crash
- Vettel would have gone the distance in Monaco – Pirelli
- Williams: first points of 2011 “bittersweet”
- 2011 Monaco Grand Prix: complete race weekend review
- Vettel made call to stay out, says Horner
- Hamilton apologises to Massa and Maldonado
- Vote for your Monaco Grand Prix Driver of the Weekend
- McLaren: Hamilton loses cool after weekend of frustration
- Red Bull: Vettel takes another win under pressure
- Ferrari: Red flag decided the race
Images © McLaren, Pirelli, McLaren