Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Valencia, 2011

McLaren: Only third-fastest in Valencia

2011 European GP team reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Ahead of the race McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: “In the last three Grands Prix we?ve had the quickest race car, and I?m hopeful that we?ll 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 position 3 6
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’37.380 (-0.265) 1’37.645
Race position 4 6
Laps 57/57 57/57
Pit stops 3 3

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
Lewis Hamilton 113.819 106.85 105.662 105.655 105.532 105.311 105.225 105.161 105.235 105.8 106.464 120.789 110.31 104.401 104.114 104.337 104.363 104.349 104.248 105.183 104.783 105.22 105.524 120.69 109.85 103.144 103.119 103.077 103.801 104.665 104.59 104.689 104.592 104.356 105.248 103.835 103.86 104.025 104.141 104.235 104.283 118.296 110.337 104.067 103.643 102.987 102.947 103.305 103.515 103.527 103.861 103.656 104.023 103.926 103.11 103.157 103.467
Jenson Button 115.351 107.499 106.889 106.823 107.108 106.554 105.866 105.321 105.681 105.965 105.778 106.134 106.872 122.35 110.05 104.296 104.526 104.567 104.585 104.477 104.415 104.751 104.635 104.385 104.793 104.363 104.291 104.938 105.486 119.802 108.716 104.639 104.493 103.75 103.908 104.057 104.122 104.214 104.104 104.352 104.274 104.109 104.169 104.201 104.49 104.331 104.293 118.371 110.422 103.427 102.842 103.516 102.724 102.689 102.535 102.595 102.34
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Valencia, 2011
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Valencia, 2011

Lewis Hamilton

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?t feel totally comfortable with the tyres.”

Lewis Hamilton 2011 form guide

Jenson Button

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.

Jenson Button 2011 form guide

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