McLaren: Hamilton loses cool after weekend of frustration

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 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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141 comments on McLaren: Hamilton loses cool after weekend of frustration

  1. Hallard said on 30th May 2011, 20:41

    I really feel for Hamilton here. The guy certainly made mistakes this last weekend, but a lot of the criticism is very harsh. Whether or not you as the viewer feel like he deserved his penalties, do we really expect these drivers to agree with the penalties they are handed? I certainly don’t.

    And it seems that many folks are up in arms about his ali g joke, saying he was playing the race card, which is total nonsense. In fact its quite the opposite; by saying it as a tongue-in-cheek joke and laughing about it, he’s making light of it and poking fun at himself a bit.

    One this is clear: he’ll go a long way toward silencing his critics if he has another strong showing in canada.

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 30th May 2011, 21:01

      I was very impressed with the way the BBC crew, particularly Jake, handled it at the time. Yet Andrew Benson, with the benefit of being able to digest it, made a deal of it in his blog and almost seems to imply he was being serious about the race issue. Not that I’ve respected his writings for quite a while now.

  2. F1Lover said on 30th May 2011, 21:58

    LewisHamilton Lewis Hamilton
    2 Massa & Maldonado, with the greatest respect I apologise if I offended u. Both of u r fantastic drivers who I regard highly.

  3. Dave Blanc said on 30th May 2011, 22:34

    Keith – that time for Hamilton in Q3 isn’t technically correct. All of his timed laps were wiped.

  4. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 31st May 2011, 2:40

    Button is keeping his mouth shut,racing & have good result in the last 3 races, where Hamilton is talking way too much & is struggling.Experience talk.

  5. DaveW said on 31st May 2011, 3:06

    Short of time, so I have not fully availed myself of the wisdom usually collected in these comments, but I got a chance to see the end of the race finally, and I’m pretty shocked about the Maldonado penalty. Maldonado simply shut the door way too late. I know the regulars who take up the burden of policing the Hamilton fans will put up their usual doctored GIFs and trigonometry proofs or whatever, but it’s pretty straight-forward. Schumacher and Hamilton showed how to pass and get passed in the hairpin and St. Devote. Maldonado and Massa need to review the video.

  6. drezone said on 31st May 2011, 3:14

    Clearly a lot of Hamilton fans and critics speaking their mind.

    As an unbiased opinion, Hamilton was unlucky to not have a chance at front row or pole due to bad luck with Perez accident and red flag and nobody is to be blamed for a bad call on only going for one run.

    In the race he was frustrated as he knew he had the best chance of any driver to win this race so he made risky moves which didn’t pull off.

    Although he did appear to be driving recklessly other parties weren’t so innocent.

    And again everytime Hamilton even blinks it appears there is no hesitation to penalise him for any incident he is involved with. (Spa 2008.)

    Schumacher and Vettel never would’ve won the championship if they copped the same treatment.

    Lucky for Lewis this time he did deserve it for being frustrated and impatient to get to the front.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 31st May 2011, 10:21

      To be fair, Schumacher got quite a lot of penalties etc. in the 199ties – it just never seemed to be able to really stop him.

      • DASMAN said on 31st May 2011, 14:16

        Take a look at the ’94 season. Schumacher had to sit out a 2 race ban due to some highly contravercial penalties.

    • xtophe (@xtophe) said on 31st May 2011, 17:08

      When Vettel crashed into Button he was handed a drivetrough aswell. Going toe to toe with Webber resulted in a DNF. He was aggressive in Silverstone, but I didn’t consider that to be very out of the ordinary myself.

      Since his Spa accident, Vettel hasn’t made huge mistakes. One could argue that this is because he’s always been at the front of races, but that is the goal of racing in the end, so you can’t really hold that against him I think.

  7. Brad said on 31st May 2011, 4:02

    I didn’t know Monaco was suppose to be a procession. If Massa and Maldonado took a leaf out of Schumacher’s book and yielded they may have finished the race.

  8. sumedh said on 31st May 2011, 7:01

    I don’t buy the perspective that the safety car disadvantaged Button. Infact, I think it helped him. Had the safety car come just before his 2nd pit-stop then it would have been a disadvantage as it would have wiped off his 13-second advantage. But it came after his pitstop which means that the 8-10 second deficit he had to Vettel reduced to 2-3 backmarkers.
    Thanks to the safety car, from lap 39 to his 3rd pit-stop on lap 48, Button was on Vettel’s tail with tyres that were both fresher and softer than Vettel’s.
    And safety cars just after your pitstop always help you not disadvantage you. I am sure people haven’t forgotten Singapore 2008?

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 31st May 2011, 9:45

      Exactly. I have no idea why people are saying that Jenson was unlucky with the safety car period, when instead I saw it as an advantage to him. The red flag incident was a disadvantage to both him and Fernando, although I still didn’t think Jenson would have been able to challenge Fernando or Seb. Jenson was back in cruising mode anyways, and was just hoping for Fernando or Seb to make a mistake instead of actually trying something himself.

  9. TdM (@tdm) said on 31st May 2011, 13:04

    If there is contact now the aggressor is almost always judged to be at fault UNLESS he has his nose ahead before turn in.

    This discourages racing. It’s also very wrong. The rules started out to stop people doing desperate dan lunges up the inside – which is fair enough because those are ridiculous, however, if someone is obviously attacking a gap then it should be up to the defender to make way for the aggressor.

    That does not mean they have to let them through – there are 2 parts to defending, first – dissuade your opponent. You KNOW they are behind you and attacking, you should remove the gap before it is there with good car positioning. This will stop them from making the move in the first place or force them to a less advantageous part of the track if they do make the move.

    Second – if they get up alongside you then narrow the gap as much as possible and give them a difficult exit or take a wider line and cut under them (second option not really possible all that much in Monaco I’ll give you)

    This allows the person in front to defend and gives the person behind the space to race them. There are good examples of this in this very race.

    Shuey on Hamilton – Hamilton saw him coming and stayed wide knowing he could no longer shut the door allowing space for the overtake with the opportunity to come back under him if he made a mistake on braking.

    Webber on Kobayashi – Webber took the inside, Kobayashi tried to outbrake him but did not turn back in on him.

    Hamilton on Shuey – Schumacher saw Hamilton coming and narrowed the gap on turn in BUT crucially left some space for the pass to go ahead if Hamilton held his nerve.

    The focus of penalties should move more onto the defending driver. They have all the power as to where they can place their car in defence – allowing them to put the opposition on a dirty line or a difficult angle, and it should be up to them to allow space if the opponent thinks they can make it. If they have braked late, positioned their car correctly and got the best line for the circumstances even in a slower car, they can still come out on top – this makes overtaking a real battle.

    • TdM (@tdm) said on 31st May 2011, 13:07

      Oh yeah and a point I forgot to make.

      I think that they need to make it easier to realise when there is someone alongside you – you SHOULD be able to hear it at the moment but they could improve things – better more stable mirrors for a start. Possibly even a proximity light (not sure about that but just putting it out there). This should make matters fairer

      • Nigelstash (@nigelstash) said on 31st May 2011, 22:10

        Well said. The way MSC left Lewis just enough room, and the way Lewis had the skill to take it, were the highlight of the race. Maldonado, I can forgive as he is a rookie. That should go down as a racing incident and the stewards should have a word with him. Massa on the other hand, should know better by now and at least accept his part in another racing incident rather than trying to get Lewis punished further.

  10. Younger Hamii said on 31st May 2011, 13:37

    Overall i completely Hated what Lewis said on Sunday and i thought the way he drove this Weekend was completely reckless and Unacceptable and i thought that this was not the Lewis Hamilton i Knew.But he Spoke his Heart and Mind out with real Honesty and Emotion and that really should be touching to Formula 1 Fans at the Moment.The Lewis Hamilton that i Know was relatively calm towards the end of His Interview and was mature as well as commenting on Twitter,Apologising to everyone he probably offended over the Grand Prix Weekend.

    This is obviously coming from a Lewis Fan and to be honest right now we can critcise Lewis and respect what he said as much as we want but its in the Past and we should look forward to Montreal Next Weekend and seeing Lewis recover from all of this with another POLE POSITION AND RACE VICTORY!!

    I thought JB was rather Unfortunate this Weekend and thought he should have won this Grand Prix but McLaren got their Strategy by pitting Jenson during the Safety Car Period and giving Track Position(Which is Critical in Monaco) to Seb.With McLaren and Strategies,they always think that Lewis and Jenson can just fly past Drivers ahead with the Faster Tyres(Options) its not Easy and Lewis and Jenson has demonstrated difficulties of such(Australia 2010 and Monaco 2011) and to choose that kind of Strategy while Racing in the Streets of Monte Carlo makes it Doublely Difficult as usual.

    A Question in my mind and Others,With those Fresher Options at the final stage of the Race,Would JB passed Seb and Fernando.Well at a Track like Monaco,So Tight and rarely Overtaking Opportunities are presented and with Vettel about to reach the ‘cliff'(which was prevented due to the Massive Crash that brought out the Red Flag and suspended the race).Its very difficult but Unlikely at to tell if Jenson or Fernando could have won the race.

    Anyway Hope Lewis or Jenson Grab Pole and Race Victory in Canada,Lewis is definetely a Contender for Pole due to his Pole Streak.Gonna be a Cracking Weekend defintely Red Bull’s Weakest

  11. j-dub said on 31st May 2011, 14:31

    It’s not because he is black — the bias is because he is short and balding — that’s bad for the show.

  12. UnionJ said on 31st May 2011, 14:39

    Lewis needs to learn a little composure, it is plain to see he is frustrated but acting like a spoilt child is not the answer.

    I think his biggest mistake in this sport was starting in a top team, he has never felt what it is like to start in a slower struggling car and other drivers have gained valuable experience in their careers by starting at the bottom, he has had most things handed to him on a plate.

    There has to come a time on the track when you realise that the win just is’nt achievable and what is more important are points, points that could matter later on in the season, the ‘frustrated’ Lewis cannot seem to grasp that.

  13. I wonder if Hamilton needs to take control of his race team more, like Alonso & Schumacher do/did at Ferrari. He keeps moaning about the team decisions like a muppet – take control Lewis, your good enough. Whitmarsh & the rest will guess the call but you’re the driver who has to live with it. Stand up man.

  14. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 31st May 2011, 19:33

    Great race from Jenson Button. It felt like a real classic situation and no doubt it would have been between, Vettel, Alonso and himself had it not been for the red-flag. Still…it’s quite nice knowing we will never know.

    Good to see him on the podium.

    Probably Hamilton’s worst ever weekend for getting on the wrong side of the stewards, it just went from bad to worse! It’s strange though, after all the controversy and penalties you would have expected worse than 6th, not bad at all!

  15. leotef (@leotef) said on 3rd June 2011, 14:54

    Drive thru penalty plus 20 sec all are controversal and frankly does not look fair verdict. Still the existence of LH in the race generates fun and expectation of tension.

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