McLaren: Surprise win in Germany for Hamilton

2011 German GP team review

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):

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
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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73 comments on McLaren: Surprise win in Germany for Hamilton

  1. BasCB (@bascb) said on 25th July 2011, 16:58

    I think that Button might have had a nice scrap with Vettel and Massa, if not for his power steering issues, shame.

    But Hamilton showed how great his driving is when things go right for him and he feels really on it. Great drive, and it will certainly boost him and the team for the next races.

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 25th July 2011, 17:19

      I think Button could have finished outside the top 5 but in the top 10, thus making me score a point in the Random Predictions Championship, but he retired :(

    • SupaSix-1 said on 26th July 2011, 11:48

      Scrap with vettel & massa??

      -Button couldnt even overtake petrov despite button having a quicker car, DRS & KERS! Button was stuck behind petrov for 20 laps..we saw button trying to lunge at petrov a number of times but then backed out (shows lack of cojones) – If that was Hamilton he wouldve taken petrov in his 1st attempt.
      Vettel may not be a great overtaker but he is a better overtaker than button and even HE struggled against massa.

      Call massa what you want (my name for him is doormat). He is compared to button alot (as they are number 2s) but one thing massa has over button is his ability to defend & fight (like in Aus 2011 against button), and theres no way button wouldve got past vettel & massa especially considering his slow pace) if he couldnt even pass petrov in 20 laps.
      Even against rosberg button couldnt pass him either and it was only down to nico who outbraked himself into turn 1 that allowed button to pass him.

      Button is way overated….he was a disaster in germany & silverstone and he was fortunate to retire in germany & silverstone as if he didnt He wouldntve had anywhere to hide (excuses for his rubbish pace).

      Lets look at Hamilton VS Button in germany:

      on Lap 29 (2 laps after button pit for fresh tyres) – Button was on fresh (options) soft tyres & set a lap time of: 1m37.2 secs.
      Hamilton’s laptime on the same lap (on soft tyres…12 laps older) set the laptime of: 1m36.6 secs!!!

      ..says it all really!

      • Hammer Time said on 26th July 2011, 12:29

        Look how much Button Dropped Vitaly after he passed him. His car had mega pace in race trim, Button is fantastic at overtaking, he had just gotten past Rosberg… I disagree with you on this, i think Button would’ve finished 4th.

        I also disagree he is overrated. See Canadian replay for evidence. In Silverstone, Mclaren bungled the pitstop, in Germany the car failed. He might not be Hamilton fast but he isn’t normally far behind. If he can qualify properly, he would have much less work to do on the Sunday. Roll on Hungary…

        • McLarenFanJamm (@mclarenfanjamm) said on 26th July 2011, 16:50

          I think he had a poor weekend, but I don’t believe he is over-rated and he has shown that he can over-take when it is absolutely neccessary (Brazil 2009 anyone?). Button may not be an all-out attacker like Hamilton, but he is patient and waits for the right opportunity to pass. This puts pressure on his opponents and can push them into making a mistake (Rosberg, Germany 2011).

          His slower, smoother stlye does also maintain his tyres longer than others, so what he loses to Hamilton in pace, he makes up for by doing one less pitstop than him, usually they end up quite close.

          You may think he is over-rated, but he is a world champion, and you don’t become a world champion by being average. He comprehensively outclassed a vastly more experienced team-mate in Barrichello, who had an identical car to him, at the beginning of 2009. And did what he had to do to win his world championship.

          Vettel is now in the same position as Button was, he’s dominated the early part of the season, now, the rest of the field have caught up and are in cars as quick/quicker than his own. If he manages to maintain his advantage and win another title will you class him as over-rated? No? Didn’t think so.

          Hamilton and Button are different drivers, but both are race winners and world champions so they deserve to be on the same pedestal, despite what anyone says to the contrary.

          Vettel may not be a great overtaker but he is a better overtaker than button

          I respectfully disagree. Most of Vettels over-takes come from being in a vastly faster car then the driver in front or from being on vastly fresher tyres. Hamilton in China, Hamilton’s tyres had fallen off the Cliff, Button in Australia, Vettel had brand new tyres and Buttons were coming toward the end of their life. If he is behind a driver in a car with similar pace and tyres to his own, he can’t get past. Hamilton in Silverstone and Massa in Germany being the two most recent examples. And if he does go for the over-take, it usually ends up in some sort of collision. Sutil at Silverstone last year, Webber at Istanbul last year and Button at Spa last year all spring to mind.

  2. Great drive from a fantastic driver. Always exciting to watch!

    Shame about Button: I hear his set-up might have been for a wet race hence the ‘gap’ to Lewis. Nonetheless, looking forward to a better race for Button at Hungary; his 200th race.

    • Oliver said on 26th July 2011, 6:07

      Oh please!
      If his setup was for a wet race, he would not be surprised at his lack of pace. Button said, ..”I am over a second slower than my team mate, something must be wrong somewhere”..
      If you had said, perhaps the new updates made the car more unsettled, then you could have had a much better excuse.

    • Oliver said on 26th July 2011, 6:07

      Oh please!
      If his setup was for a wet race, he would not be surprised at his lack of pace. Button said, ..”I am over a second slower than my team mate, something must be wrong somewhere”..
      If you had said, perhaps the new updates made the car more unsettled, then you could have had a much better excuse.

  3. HoHum (@hohum) said on 25th July 2011, 17:05

    Lewis passing Webber down pit straight showed the top speed advantage of the McLarens over the Red Bulls, whether it is aerodynamic drag due to the exceptional downforce designed into the RB7, or superior power from the Mercedes engine, it is a weakness that will cost the RB7 places whenever they are unable to make the most of their downforce/speed advantage in the corners to pull far enough ahead of the chasing car.

    • Patrickl said on 25th July 2011, 17:13

      Isn’t that caused by Red Bull’s gamble not to go for a full KERS system? If Webber’s worked at all at that moment.

      • David BR said on 25th July 2011, 17:26

        Choosing that line along the pit wall for the pass wasn’t down to Red Bull’s KERS though! Webber was clearly ready to block Hamilton on the other side.

    • AdrianMorse said on 25th July 2011, 17:53

      I think Hamilton got by Webber because he had a superior exit out of the final corner, and possibly some KERS left.

      • Oliver said on 26th July 2011, 6:16

        Exactly. Webber was forced to take a very tight light into the straight. Hamilton was already on his tail at the beginning of the straight and with a much better Momentum.
        You could see Webber still had the pace to take back the position at the first corner, only Hamilton had already blocked that section of the track.

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 26th July 2011, 10:25

      That was very “Hamiltonesque”. We saw him making a similar move on Button back in Turkey 2010, when Jenson past him he positioned his car to fight back. When he feels that the other guy will pass he just finds a way to bounce back ASAP.

      That maneuver was a mix of quick decision-making and guts.

      • DaveW said on 26th July 2011, 15:41

        It also displayed that secret ingredient to his brilliance: a touch of the crazy. Even the replay gives me goosebumps to see how he came roaring between Webber and the wall. It was not clear at all that Webber was going to stop moving over. The pit board guys had to leap away from the wall. I think most drivers would have hesitated or taken the outside in that situation; either choice would have meant losing the position.

  4. S.J.M (@sjm) said on 25th July 2011, 17:08

    Lewis drove a blinder, and when he had Alonso & Webber breathing down his gearbox for most of the race, it was nice to see him keep calm when required. Whether it was the conditions or the car combined with Lewis’s talent, i dont know. Hungary will show where the car is.
    But Alonso hit the nail on the head post-race, he & Lewis need each other (and Webber too) to have any chance of catching Vettel in the WDC. And i very much do hope all 3 can, the WDC standings with Vettel that far away doesnt do justice to how cool this season has been for racing, and the German GP was one of the good ones (and not just because Lewis won).

  5. David BR said on 25th July 2011, 17:14

    This for me was one of Hamilton’s very best races, up with Spa 2008 and the awesome battle with Raikkonen and Silverstone 2008 where like Senna he blew away the entire field in the rain. In this race, though, it was the fact of competing with two equally determined rivals in virtually equal cars – and producing those two instant re-takes of position. Just exhilarating stuff.

    But again McLaren’s imperfections surfaced. Button being unable to challenge Vettel and Massa may have meant between 2 and 4 points being lost in the hunt for the WDC. And every one is pure gold right now.

    • AdrianMorse said on 25th July 2011, 17:56

      not to mention a possible 16-point swing in the constructors’

    • lewymp4 (@lewymp4) said on 25th July 2011, 18:15

      Absolutely exhilarating….this race is exactly what many fans have been waiting and looking for. The fastest drivers, in the fastest cars, going at each other with no quarter given, in a fair and sporting manner.

      I would also rate Hamilton’s performance in this race up their with, Silverstone 2008 and Spa in the same year.

  6. The Limit said on 25th July 2011, 17:19

    Sometimes this season it has been easy to forget just why Hamilton is so highly rated as a racing driver, until yesterday’s performance. For once we saw the Lewis Hamilton of 2007/2008, the devil may care style of driving which was as exciting to watch as it was ballsy. I must be honest, I was getting sick of hearing Hamilton talking a good race but not driving one. He firmly altered that yesterday.
    He needs to put thoughts about winning the championship behind him and enjoy driving the car. He looked relaxed yesterday, indeed it was Vettel who appeared flustered and out of soughts.
    Importantly, I was impressed by the quality of the racing. Both Webber and Alonso deserve credit for their driving, as it was intense but was equally very clean.
    Yesterday showed everybody that Vettel is not unbeatable, and maybe still feeling the aftereffects of his loss at Silverstone. He still has the whip hand, but if Alonso/Webber and Hamilton can put him under pressure. Who knows?

    • Oliver said on 26th July 2011, 6:22

      I think Hamilton had tried to be over cautious and that doesn’t work for him. He had tried to be way too cautious during the start of European GP at Valencia, and it didn’t work. He has gone back to his winning formula, and it pays dividends. His previous brush with accidents were not entirely his doing. Canada was just caused by the conditions, and is no different from the Heidfeld – Buemi incident at this race, only visibility was worse back then.

  7. Todfod (@todfod) said on 25th July 2011, 17:26

    Hats off to Hamilton. People could argue that his China win was down to superior strategy by Mclaren, but there is not doubt that he won this race all due to his racecraft and relentless pursuit.

    This race really highlighted the gulf in class between Jenson and Lewis as well. Hope Mclaren start focusing their efforts on their number #1 driver, if they want to stand any chance on winning the WDC this year.

    • Hewis Lamilton said on 25th July 2011, 17:52

      Do you mean the power steering issue that caused Buttons issues during the race?

      • Todfod (@todfod) said on 25th July 2011, 17:59

        No.. I mean qualifying over a second quicker than your teammate, and then leading the race from the start while your teammate was fighting with the Renaults and Mercedes to stay in the points

    • JUGNU (@jugnu) said on 25th July 2011, 19:12

      Agree 100%. Button should be given the role of Massa now(two DNF in two) if Mclaren is smart and have the little chance of winning Championship.
      Alonso’s confidence of challenging Vettel for championship after the race is partly because he knows his team mate will not disturb him. After the race he also said Mclaren should help him by having very compettive car and taking points off Vettel but not him. Mclaren should have same mentality, Button and others should take points off RBR drivers and not off Hamilton.

      • tharris19 said on 25th July 2011, 19:38

        I am a McLaren fan and I don’t agree that Button should be relegated to a number 2. He is a WDC. He deserves the same support from the team as Lewis as long as McLaren has the resources to support both of them.
        I think he does not need the nursemaid attitude he gets from MW. He can accept the fact that he is not as quick as Lewis but on any given day he can beat him (see Canada).
        I wish all teams took that attitude towards their drivers.

        • Todfod (@todfod) said on 25th July 2011, 20:07

          I agree Mclaren has a great ethic regarding letting their drivers race, but there comes a point in time where you just have to put all your eggs in one basket to stand a chance.

          And do you honestly believe that Jenson Button is capable of winning another WDC?

          • tharris19 said on 26th July 2011, 20:23

            I believe he has the skills and desire to compete for it; I know he has won it before and I know when thing fall in place (albeit perfect) he can win.
            With all that in mind, he and Hamilton will have to stay at the top of their game to beat each and the other drivers on the grid to win WDC. A win-win situation for McLaren.

  8. Eggry (@eggry) said on 25th July 2011, 17:51

    Great race by Hamilton, Bad luck for Button. Things comes in three? I hope not…

  9. dean said on 25th July 2011, 17:56

    I dont care what anyone say ,Lewis Hamilton is currently the best and most exciting driver in formula one today.if you tape and watch all his races again and again you will notice his bold and fearless attacking driving styles, and his willingness to take huge risks that other drivers cant or wont.He is the reason why formula one has become exciting to watch. Vettal is not the best, he is just in the best car.

    The reason i say this is because Vetal seems to only be good from the front, or when he is in pole postion.If he starts from about 4th of 5th in a race then he has real difficulty passing cars. Hamilton can do it from the back or front.Alonso is the next best driver to Hamilton.I willing to bet everything i have that if every driver had a red bull to drive all season that Hamilton would come out on top.He is a real class act

    • infy (@infy) said on 25th July 2011, 18:15

      I’d take you on that bet. Lewis can only win when the conditions suit him.

      • McLarenFanJamm (@mclarenfanjamm) said on 25th July 2011, 19:00

        You could say the same about Vettel… The conditions being he starts from the front row and doesn’t have to overtake cars of a similar pace to him, which he finds difficult.

      • Simon said on 25th July 2011, 19:15

        Out of interest, what conditions would you say suit Hamilton?

        We know the Mclaren doesn’t always go well in certain (hotter) conditions, but what about the driver? The only thing I can think of is if he’s in a bad place mentally – other than that, he has shown himself to be pretty versatile.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 28th July 2011, 21:59

      Lewis also gets penalised heavily for his driving. There is fearless then just plain irresponsible.

  10. ryan dixon said on 25th July 2011, 18:06

    What a race by Lewis, I knew he had it in him to do it, just as everyone else propbably thought, the car didnt have it. Honest supprise that he won, thought that Alonso and webber had it won but apperntky not, Mclaren need to now move on from this and keep the improvments coming.

  11. Dave Bloomfield said on 25th July 2011, 18:24

    They needed LH to win – it’s contract time and he’s busting to leave with hissy fits etc… They badly want him to stay – sponsorship etc. I think McLaren have caved in and given him their best effort and car. JB recently hinted that the effort to give them two equal cars at times compromised their ability to win races… JB is not slow racing or mentally he knows what’s going on. Maybe he’s been ‘persuaded’ to go with it – hence his seeming acceptance of not fighting for the title this year. Not easy to swallow.

    • tharris19 said on 26th July 2011, 20:28

      Personal feeling or facts, Dave? If they are facts where did you get them from. Jenson and Hamilton are having a difficult time with the car this year so I haven’t seen anything that would indicate that Lewis is being given an advantage over Jenson.

  12. Victor. (@victor) said on 25th July 2011, 19:07

    In the midst of all the excitement has the blue smoke from Hamilton’s car been accounted for?

    • HounslowBusGarage (@hounslowbusgarage) said on 25th July 2011, 20:58

      Hmm. I’d forgotten about that. I would have said ‘overfilled oil system’ but Martin B said it seemed to come from the left cylinder bank only.
      Could this be a weakness in the engine that requires a change for next weekend, or if unchanged could force a retirement?

  13. DaveW said on 25th July 2011, 19:51

    Hamilton popping up in Q2 is an interesting story because I heard Prew saying that Hamilton disputed McLaren’s practice of focusing on updates for future races on Fridays, instead of the one at hand, which is what they were doing in Germany.

    It’s interesting that Hamilton is now standing up to the engineers on development issues. Maybe he doesn’t have the experience to guide development like an Alonso, and maybe he is wrong, but someone has to tell Prew and Lowe that they are doing it wrong sometimes, becaue frequently their updates don’t deliver. Of course, Hamilton won the race. Which may only make this difference between Hamilton and the engineers more pitched now. But the fact that Button was nowhere may embolden Hamilton to say, I don’t care to run your Singapore in Hungary, have Button do it.

  14. adam23 said on 25th July 2011, 20:56

    Great drive from Hamilton, his best since 2007/8 in my opinion. Button had a dreadful qualifying, no denying it, but he had the potential to join the battle for 4th place, so his race pace wasn’t that terrible.

    However, all of this talk in some of the comments about Button being pushed down into a No 2 Massa role is nonsense. Yes, Hamilton is faster than Button, in general and yes, Button was nowhere compared to his team-mate this weekend, but Formula 1 is about scoring points: at the end of the day, the man with the most points wins the WDC, and two races ago, Button was ahead of Hamilton in the championship, until he had two DNFs, neither of which were his own fault in the slightest.

    Comparing Button and Massa is just absurd. Massa has less than half of the points of his team-mate, no comparison. Ferrari can afford to have a number two driver because their number one is the complete package. As long as Hamilton still has races like Malaysia, Monaco and Canada, Mclaren don’t have the same luxury and still need another driver capable of winning.

    I would also like to emphasise the fact that I am not claiming for one second that Button is faster or better than Hamilton, and that I am not denying that Lewis was unbelievable yesterday and is a phenomenal talent and very possibly the fastest and most exciting driver on the current grid. :)

  15. chrisapparently (@chrisapparently) said on 25th July 2011, 21:55

    Hamilton deservedly won this, his racing talent is getting its chance to shine once again. However; I look forward to seeing if this continues at Hungary. Will Vettel get back on form though?

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