2011 Belgian GP team review
Button’s recovery drive from 13th to third was delayed by first-lap damage.
|Lewis Hamilton||Jenson Button|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q2)||2’02.823 (-2.327)||2’05.150|
McLaren drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
Despite an altercation with Pastor Maldonado in Q2, Hamilton lined up second on the grid as he did in 2010.
He lost three places in the first two laps but set about re-taking them. First he squeezed passed Felipe Massa on the run to Pouhon after the Ferrari driver had been slowed in battle with his team mate.
Next he took Nico Rosberg for second place, which became the lead following Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso’s pit stops.
After three laps in the lead Hamilton came into the pits, rejoining in eighth place. He quickly passed Adrian Sutil on the straight before Pouhon and moved ahead of Vitaly Petrov.
Hamilton’s next target was Kamui Kobayashi who he took on the straight heading into Les Combes. Unusually, despite Hamilton having his rear wing open, the Sauber driver was able to retaliate.
This seemed to catch Hamilton unaware as he moved back towards his racing line and the pair made contact, sending the McLaren into the barriers.
Afterwards Hamilton said his straight-line speed had been poor. McLaren had evaluated a new rear wing with stronger DRS effect during practice.
Hamilton initially blamed Kobayashi for the crash, but changed his mind after watching the video.
Button blamed a “misunderstanding” for his failure to reach Q3 for the first time this year: “I’d just done a fast lap, and was cooling the tyres, not knowing that there wasn’t any more time left in the session.
“If I’d known, obviously I wouldn’t have slowed down on my final lap. “Obviously, with the track getting drier with every lap, it was vital to be going quickly until the end of the session.
“I think I was second or third-quickest when I did my lap; it’s just a pity I that didn’t get a chance to put in another lap.”
He had a scare at the start when he hit debris from the collision between Bruno Senna and Jaime Alguersuari: “Someone’s front wing went through my front wing and ripped one of the mirrors off as well, so it was a pretty messy first lap.
“I was radioing to the team saying ‘I’ve got a lot of damage, I need to come in.’ They said ‘you can’t because you will be in so much traffic, just keep pushing.’ I did so for five laps and they said ‘pit and we’ll go to options.’”
Button also had damage to his rear wing which the team were unable to repair in the pits.
This further delay left him 14th behind Michael Schumacher. But after the race restarted Button immediately made progress, passing Rubens Barrichello for tenth.
On the next lap he took Sergio Perez and Petrov around the outside at La Source. He picked off Michael Schumacher, Adrian Sutil, Felipe Massa and Nico Rosberg over the next eight laps, moving up to fourth.
Having dispensed with the medium tyres during his first stint, Button was able to stay on softs at the end of the race and used them to good effect, passing Alonso for third with little difficulty with three laps to go.
2011 Belgian Grand Prix
- Rate the race result: 2011 Belgian Grand Prix
- In the Paddock Club and in the stands at Spa
- Leimer’s crash and in the pits at McLaren – fans’ videos from Spa
- 2011 Belgian Grand Prix: complete race review
- Vote for your Belgian GP driver of the weekend
- Red Bull: Newey relieved after “scariest race ever”
- McLaren: Button hit by debris in first-lap scare
- Ferrari: Harder tyres still the car’s weakness
- Mercedes: Schumacher climbs 19 places to fifth
- Renault: Petrov buoyed by R31 upgrades
Image © McLaren