Ahead of the race McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: “In the last three Grands Prix we?óÔé¼Ôäóve had the quickest race car, and I?óÔé¼Ôäóm hopeful that we?óÔé¼Ôäóll have the quickest race car here in Valencia, too.”
That turned out not to be the case – Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button could do little more than watch as the Red Bulls and Ferraris pulled away from them.
|Lewis Hamilton||Jenson Button|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q3)||1’37.380 (-0.265)||1’37.645|
McLaren drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
Hamilton took third on the grid but was passed by both the fast-starting Ferraris at the start.
He was the first of the front-runners to pit, taking new soft tyres on lap 12. Ferrari reacted slowly to the move, bringing Felipe Massa in three laps later, which meant Hamilton gained a position.
He could do little more, though. He was in for more tyres again on lap 24 and this time there was no rush to ‘cover’ his pit stop among the top three as he was already out of the running for the win.
McLaren focused instead on getting him home ahead of Massa, which would have been a much closer call had the Ferrari not lost time in a pit stop.
He managed to extend his third stint to 18 laps but only by backing off considerably. It allowed him to keep fourth place, but he finished 46 seconds adrift of Vettel.
Hamilton said afterwards: “The team asked me to stay out for as long as I could, and I was pushing all the way, but I struggled with oversteer and to be honest didn?óÔé¼Ôäót feel totally comfortable with the tyres.”
Button was only two-hundredths of a second off Hamilton in Q2. But in Q3 the gap increased to three-tenths and the two Ferraris filled the gap, leaving Button a dissatisfied sixth.
Nico Rosberg demoted him to seventh at the start. Button made a couple of attempts to pass in the DRS zone, and eventually made it through at turn two at the beginning of lap six.
Having passed Rosberg he couldn’t close the gap to the leaders. As usual he was able to make his soft tyres last longer, and only needed a nine-lap run on mediums at the end of the race.
But his KERS failed halfway through the race – the first such failure for McLaren during a Grand Prix this year. That cost him around half a second per lap, and ended any chance of taking Massa for fifth.
2011 European Grand Prix
- 2011 European Grand Prix: complete race weekend review
- Vote for your driver of the European GP weekend
- Red Bull: “Rules changed but not the result”
- Ferrari: Alonso says Red Bull up to a second faster
- McLaren: Only third-fastest in Valencia
- Mercedes: Schumacher takes blame for collision
- Toro Rosso: Alguersuari bounces back
- Sauber: Perez nearly grabs a point with one-stopper
- Renault: Boullier unhappy with single point
- Force India: Sutil cracks the top ten
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