2011 British GP team review
McLaren abandoned their planned rear wing upgrade after it did not perform as desired in practice.
But the situation got worse in qualifying, as the team seemed to be badly affected by the new restrictions on exhaust-blowing.
|Lewis Hamilton||Jenson Button|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q3)||1’32.376 (+0.478)||1’31.898|
McLaren drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
Poor tyre choice in Q3 compounded McLaren’s woes for Hamilton, leaving him tenth on the grid.
Having aborted a run on soft tyres in Q1 when it began to rain he used the same tyres again at the beginning of Q3. The intention was to use a new set at the end of Q3, but the arrival of more rain made that impossible.
He made rapid progress from tenth on the grid picking up four places, sweeping past Paul di Resta on the run to Stowe on lap one.
He picked off Button on the run to Brooklands on lap two and chased after Felipe Massa’s Ferrari.
After his messy performances at Monaco and Canada, it was back to classic Hamilton – though he was perhaps a little too fond of the run-off at Brooklands, sliding wide onto the asphalt more than once.
He switched to slicks before Massa which allowed him to get past the Ferrari. His next target was Fernando Alonso.
On lap 15 at Copse Hamilton ducked out from behind the Ferrari and took third place.
But it proved a temporary switch. Ten laps later Alonso, his tyres now fully up to temperature, took the place back easily in the DRS zone.
As the conditions swung from wet to dry, Hamilton found himself defending instead of attacking. He came under sustained pressure from Sebastian Vettel, who had been delayed by a slow pit stop. Vettel didn’t find a way past, but by making a final stop one lap before Hamilton he was able to demote the McLaren.
Hamilton now had Mark Webber on his tail, and his team warning him that he had to back off to save fuel.
“We’d expected him to encounter more traffic in the first part of the race than he actually did,” explained Martin Whitmarsh. “As a result, he used more fuel early on than we’d anticipated he would.”
Webber got past Hamilton in the DRS zone in much the same way Alonso had.
With six laps to go, Hamilton urged the team to give him more information on his fuel situation as Massa was reeling him in once more. It came down to a desperate tussle on the final lap.
Massa tried to get around Hamilton on the outside at Vale. Hamilton clipped the Ferrari and switched back to get the inside line at Club. As Massa took to the run off, Hamilton pipped him to the line by two-hundredths of a second.
Hamilton said: “Before the end, I had to start saving fuel: you have to lift and coast, which means the brake temperatures drop. So I had no brakes, and that’s why I kept locking up. That allowed Mark to slip ahead of me and meant I was defending from Felipe in the closing laps.
“On the final lap, the team gave me the order to push as hard as I could, but Felipe had already closed the gap by that point, so it was difficult to defend. That last lap was as close as it’s ever going to get!
“In the final corner I stayed on the inside and braked as hard as I could. Fortunately, we both got around the corner in one piece and I just pipped him at the finish.”
Whitmarsh praised Hamilton’s last-lap efforts as a “testament to his indefatigable competitiveness”.
Button was the quickest McLaren driver in qualifying but could only manage fifth, one-and-a-half seconds off Mark Webber.
He started well, passing Massa, but fell back behind the Ferrari and his team mate as he struggled on the intermediate tyres.
He came back into contention after switching to slicks, attacking Massa on lap 14. He swept around the outside at Stowe and took the place under braking at Vale.
The team planned to pit Button on lap 37 to jump him ahead of Webber. But after telling him their plan on the radio it was broadcast and overheard by Red Bull, who immediately responded by bringing Webber in.
Having lost the opportunity to get him past, McLaren brought Button in on the next lap. But his front-right wheel man dropped the nut and the car was mistakenly sent out onto the track. The wheel worked loose immediately and Button pulled over at the pit lane exit.
Whitmarsh defended the team afterwards, saying: “Our pit crew has done a fantastic job all year – but on this occasion they released Jenson before his right-front wheel had been properly attached.
“It was a case of human error in the heat of the moment – but, as I say, and as I want to stress the point, our pit crew has completed dozens of faultless pit stops under extreme pressure this season and today’s error was therefore totally atypical.”
2011 British Grand Prix
- Adam watches an F1 race for the first time at Silverstone
- 2011 British Grand Prix: complete race weekend review
- Vote for your British Grand Prix driver of the weekend
- Red Bull: Webber made a number two driver again
- Ferrari back on form after poor start to 2011
- McLaren: Fuel and pit errors add to problems
- Renault: Heidfeld salvages points from poor weekend
- Mercedes pass Renault in the championship
- Force India squander points chance
- Sauber: Perez claims best-ever result
Image © McLaren