Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Nurburgring, 2011

McLaren: Surprise win in Germany for Hamilton

2011 German GP team reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Hamilton’s win in Germany was against the run of play as McLaren did not expect to be competitive.

Lewis Hamilton Jenson Button
Qualifying position 2 7
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’30.134 (-1.154) 1’31.288
Race position 1
Laps 60/60 35/60
Pit stops 3 1

McLaren drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):

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
Lewis Hamilton 101.425 98.841 98.641 98.321 98.276 98.043 98.043 98.029 98.278 98.218 98.709 99.667 99.312 98.775 98.101 100.509 115.745 97.321 96.718 96.92 96.749 96.62 96.385 96.583 96.493 96.384 96.437 96.634 96.828 96.623 98.949 112.837 95.224 95.117 95.083 95.063 95.287 95.366 95.213 95.451 95.486 95.292 95.281 95.835 95.483 95.418 95.33 95.289 95.542 95.56 97.962 112.869 94.821 94.62 94.952 94.787 94.682 94.733 94.302 94.872
Jenson Button 107.853 101.495 100.185 99.603 99.735 99.518 99.669 99.59 99.244 99.698 99.966 99.893 100.064 99.635 101.734 100.015 98.945 98.508 98.654 98.234 98.344 98.469 98.6 100.527 114.604 96.76 97.204 96.721 97.132 97.553 97.744 96.54 96.258 97.223 103.598
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Nurburgring, 2011
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Nurburgring, 2011

Lewis Hamilton

Practice gave little indication of McLaren’s potential around the Nurburgring. Then in Q2 Hamilton suddenly appeared at the top of the times sheets.

He split the Red Bulls to start from the front row for the first time since the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Hamilton grabbed the lead at the start but couldn’t pull away from Mark Webber initially. On lap 11 he ran wide at the chicane and lost the lead to Webber – Hamilton was briefly heard telling his team not to communicate with him while he was fighting for position.

Hamilton hit back immediately, diving between Webber and the pit wall (with greater success than when he tried a similar move on his team mate in Canada). That put him back in the lead.

He fell to second through his first pit stop as Webber came in first. They held position during the second stint but during the next round of pit stops Hamilton emerged in front of the Red Bull once again.

Webber tried to pass Hamilton around the outside of turn two but the McLaren driver wasn’t having any of it, firmly pushing Webber towards the track’s boundaries.

Fortunately for Hamilton, Fernando Alonso didn’t have that move in his repertoire when he came out of pits in front of the McLaren on the very next lap. Hamilton used the ‘Webber line’ to great effect, taking the lead back.

Hamilton quickly pulled out a three-second lead over the next four laps. Although Alonso cut back into his lead as they prepared to make their final pit stops, he wasn’t able to get close enough to cause McLaren any problems during the final stint.

Hamilton admitted he was surprised by the team’s pace at the Nurburgring: “We didn?t really think we would be so fast and not quite sure what we?ve done, because we?ve not really brought much here.

“I don?t know if it?s the conditions. I think we were competitive in Montreal and in Monaco and in Valencia, in hot temperatures, we are less competitive.

“We obviously went to Silverstone with the rule changes which was a big problem for us, and then we come back here to where we were, really, in cool conditions.

“I think we?re there or thereabouts but I do still feel that the overall performance of the two guys here, particularly the Red Bulls?, is slightly better than ours.

“You can see this weekend, I was quickest in the first sector and the last sector, but we lose a lot in the middle sector, and that?s because we don?t have a DRS system as efficient as theirs, so I think that we will lose at least half of those four tenths in the middle sector.

“If we can improve in that area, then I think we could definitely eke ahead of them, so that?s what we need to work on.”

Lewis Hamilton 2011 form guide

Jenson Button

While Hamilton revelled in the MP4-26’s performance, Button did not. Having generally been closer to Hamilton in qualifying this year than last, he was over a second behind at the Nurburgring

It got worse at the start as Button had wheelspin at the start and lost three places, ending up stuck behind Vitaly Petrov.

He got past the Renault on lap 17 and ran until lap 24 on his first set of tyres.

This surely would have paved the way for Button to use a two-stop strategy to gain some places back, possibly putting him in contention with Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel.

But shortly after passing Adrian Sutil and Nico Rosberg he was called into the pits with an hydraulic problem.

“I?d just overtaken Nico for sixth when my power steering started to get heavy,” he said. “Soon after, we retired the car on safety grounds because we had a hydraulic issue.”

Jenson Button 2011 form guide

2011 German Grand Prix

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