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

Browse all 2011 German Grand Prix articles

Image ?? McLaren

Advert | Go Ad-free

73 comments on McLaren: Surprise win in Germany for Hamilton

  1. JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 25th July 2011, 22:04

    It annoys me that people think that Button should be relegated to a number two driver, just because he is slower on raw pace, which he admits to?

    No. He is a challenge for Hamilton, and the points often show it during the Championship year. As was said previously, he was ahead of Hamilton in points two races ago, and equal last race until he scored two DNFs in succession, both of which were not his fault.

    More to add to the point, I don’t remember when Jenson last scored a non-finish that was his fault. Nurburgring 2007 comes to mind? If so, that’s 4 years! He is clearly capable of winning Championships, but I think what hinders his chances are that he has bad luck in races (the last two, Seb crashing into him, Monaco 2010). Which if you think about it, would have probably made him equal to or ahead of Hamilton at the end of 2010 by my calculations. Or at least VERY close.

    Also, it’s difficult for McLaren because they have to design a car which fits both their drivers needs, and they have two very different styles. So more or less in times of desperation, they’d probably end up going for development which suits Hammy in my opinion.

    However, this is merely speculation. Although I do think that Jenson is more than a match for Hamilton during a Championship, and would be for Vettel as well, more so than Webber I think. He may struggle with Ferrari’s tyre warming issues, much like the Brawn in the second part of ’09 but that’s it.

    • JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 25th July 2011, 22:06

      I’d just like to add that this doesn’t take away that I believe Hamilton did a fantastic job this weekend, and thoroughly deserved the win.

    • Andy G (@toothpickbandit) said on 26th July 2011, 17:26

      I agree with everything you said apart from Button being incredibly close to Hamilton if it wasn’t for bad luck last year.

      Button benefited consistently from Hamilton’s bad luck whereas Hamilton didn’t benefit once from Button’s.

      Race by race:

      AUS: Hamilton shagged by poor strategy and Webber taking him out, possibly costing him the win but let’s say it was just one place (HAM -2)

      ESP: Hamilton loses 2nd place due to blown tyre, Jenson benefits a place (HAM -22)

      MON: Jenson’s sidepod cover is left on, drops out having started 8th (HAM -18)

      HUN: Hamilton retires from 4th due to failed gearbox, Button moves up a place (HAM -32)

      BEL: Button retires from 2nd thanks to T-Bone move (HAM -14)

      SIN: Controversial, but I still think that it wasn’t Hamilton’s fault with Webber, and that he was unlucky to have broken his rear suspension when Webber was fine. Retires from 4th and Button moves up from 5th (HAM -28)

      JPN: Hamilton’s gearbox starts playing up has to give up 4th place to Button (HAM -32)

      So that’s 32 points lost to Button due to bad luck over last season. When you add that to the final margin of 26 points, you get a 58 point difference. More than 2 race wins.

      So not quite Alonso v Massa, but still a sizeable performance gap.

  2. pking008 said on 26th July 2011, 1:28

    @JamiesFranklinF1
    Thanks for your side note vote of confidence on Hamilton. More saying, I’m not saying “i’m not tryin to be rude….” we are know what follows. Or saying “with all due respect…..” anyone can fill in the blanks. seriously though, what Cooley have you been drinking with this your analysis?

  3. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 26th July 2011, 2:41

    There is nothing to say about Hamilton but if Button can’t get on the podium in the next race then I think his WC fight is well over.

  4. Mr.Zing Zang said on 26th July 2011, 3:19

    I think it is time for Button to Play number 2 if Mclaren want the best shot at winning the WDC and the WCC. It is so bloody obvious… look what happened last year.

    • John H said on 26th July 2011, 13:46

      Button and Whitmarsh would never do that unless it was ‘mathematically’ impossible judging on last season. Seems very naive to me, Jenson isn’t seriously going to win the WDC this year surely.

      I’m not saying they shouldn’t race each other, but developments on the car should look to suit Hamilton over Button from here on in if they have any chance of catching Vettel.

      • Dave Bloomfield said on 26th July 2011, 14:32

        Did you counsel that when JB was ahead of LH? Thought not. Bias is distortion of reality. What is clear is that something iffy happened to the McLarens in Germany and it was not accidental. Is JB leaving? Or is LH threatening? I note Eddie Jordan hinted at car preparation…

      • I agree with you to some extent, but Jenson has to be happy with his set-up too and be able to take points off Vettel.

        The more cars can finish ahead of Vettel, the more chance India’s inaugural race has to be worth watching (i.e. the Championship wont be decided by then)

  5. Lewis deserved that one, outperforming the car all weekend. McLaren may step back next week at Hungary though.

  6. leotef (@leotef) said on 26th July 2011, 4:34

    When you become to like someone then almost automatic dislike results in, regardless of factual aspects, to another one who is in competition against who you like.
    Like Hammy or not personally, I really enjoy his driving and agile movements. Well German GP seems one of his memorable wins but much will follow as far as he keeps going and concentrate on racing itself.
    I may like Vettel in his personality, but to be honest, not his driving style. As for Alonso, no question about his talent and capability in driving which I enjoy, but not his personal style as far as what we have been hearing from the past couple years are truly the case.
    Bottom line: Want to see more of dynamic and challenging drivings from the top player rather than pole and cruise to 1st. In this sense, hope McLaren and Ferrari to find lost 0.1-1% from RBR.

    • leotef (@leotef) said on 26th July 2011, 4:38

      Have to add one more line… esp re Alonso, we are already too much fed up with dirty politics and/or domination of resources to his advantage in the life. So no more of those sick stuff in the sports even thou it’s part of the life there too.

  7. Each of the top three teams have a natural number two driver. At this point of the season it’s fairly obvious. Is it better for these teams to keep their current line up so there’s no infighting within? If Vettel and Alonso were to get competition within their team, I think it would be bad for their career. Only Hamilton has shown the willingness to go up against and beat former world champions. But honestly how do you get 1-2 finishes if the other car has a number two driver?

  8. pitt layne said on 26th July 2011, 8:03

    I hope Mike hangs it up after this season. He’s embarrassing anyone who supported him in his career. I can understand him not being as fast as the young guns. Unfortunately he’s had way too many incidents on the track that negate his experience. Maybe he could be the only driver with traction control as he had his whole career. Along with his handicapped parking space.

    • John H said on 26th July 2011, 13:50

      Maybe he could be the only driver with traction control as he had his whole career.

      I’ve made the same point many times. His race pace is good once he gets the hang of the car, but in Qually he rarely seems to be at one with the car. Personally, I believe its old age meaning he can’t quite (and we’re talking hundredths of a second here) adapt to wheelspin and the limits of the car.

      Just my opinion though and I’d love him to prove us wrong and get on that podium soon!

  9. Dave Blanc said on 26th July 2011, 8:42

    All this talk of Button being the No.2 driver seems a little futile to me. For it to be of any relevance, Button would need to be leading Hamilton in the race. This doesn’t really happen. I do agree though that if new parts start coming through and there’s only 1 available then Hamilton should get them. And i don’t see this as Button being a No.2 driver, it’s just the best way to allocate scarce resources.

  10. John H said on 26th July 2011, 13:41

    Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’30.134 (-1.154)

    In the dry. Ouch.

  11. NJB said on 26th July 2011, 16:24

    Always a pleasure to see Hamilton and Alonso racing each other for a win. Such a shame that since 2007 we haven’t seen these two in a head-to-head championship battle. Hopefully they will be the protagonists in 2012.

  12. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 28th July 2011, 22:02

    First of all such a disappointment for Button, 3rd time lucky hopefully in Hungary!

    Lewis had a brilliant drive and he was great to watch throughout. Really happy for him!

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.