McLaren: Button leads Hamilton home again

2011 Italian GP team review

Jenson Button brought home the best result for McLaren for the third race in a row.

Lewis Hamilton Jenson Button
Qualifying position 2 3
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’22.725 (-0.052) 1’22.777
Race position 4 2
Laps 53/53 53/53
Pit stops 2 2

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
Lewis Hamilton 120.534 142.512 139.432 91.376 90.548 91.605 89.834 89.581 89.576 89.53 89.465 90.024 90.323 89.1 90.043 90.948 89.428 92.664 106.703 88.95 88.362 88.679 88.682 88.998 89 88.328 87.79 88.762 87.711 87.638 87.63 87.746 88.464 91.404 105.781 87.505 87.738 87.906 87.106 86.941 86.903 87 86.756 86.891 87.088 87.168 87.29 86.655 86.615 86.867 86.969 86.187 86.853
Jenson Button 122.823 142.958 137.74 92.47 91.846 90.353 89.833 89.741 89.497 89.04 89.064 89.418 89.912 89.182 89.789 89.684 92.075 105.66 88.628 88.466 88.194 88.354 88.166 87.941 87.689 87.63 87.942 87.6 88.242 87.999 87.54 87.716 91.634 104.973 88 87.758 87.602 87.538 87.274 86.993 86.939 87.063 87.462 86.937 87.181 87.115 86.98 87.034 86.956 86.855 86.771 86.207 87.298

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, McLaren, Monza, 2011

Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, McLaren, Monza, 2011

Start tyre Soft
Pit stop 1 Soft 22.083s
Pit stop 2 Medium 21.876s

Hamilton was fastest on Friday and could have made it through Q2 using only medium tyres. But he elected to play it safe and do a run on softs to ensure his pssage to Q3.

He shared the front row with Sebastian Vettel but said he could not have beaten the Red Bull driver, whose efforts he heaped praise on: “Sebastian was mega quick today.

“It looked like we would be quite competitive throughout the weekend but today in that last lap, that was untouchable for me.”

Hamilton’s performance in the race was decidedly conservative. He fell behind the flying Fernando Alonso at the start, then lost another place when the safety car came in.

He was busy warming his tyres up and keeping an eye on Michael Schumacher when Alonso bolted towards Parabolica. “They caught me napping,” he admitted afterwards.

Schumacher passed the McLaren easily on the run to the Rettifilio. Hamilton, running with comparatively low top speed in order to remain competitive with Sebastian Vettel, was literally powerless to re-pass the Mercedes, which was clearly quicker in a straight line.

Hamilton got past at the Rettifilio on lap 13 but didn’t defend the outside line at the Curva Grande – perhaps a little wary following his crash in Spa – allowing Schumacher to re-take the position.

Three laps later he took a look at the inside of the Curva Grande but Schumacher stuck to his line, obliging Hamilton to back off, allowing Jenson Button through into fourth. Moment later Button swept around Schumacher at Ascari which must have left Hamilton fuming.

Schumacher came in at the end of the lap, denying Hamilton a chance to pit before him and gain the benefit of fresher tyres. With Button now the leading McLaren, he came in next, meaning Hamilton couldn’t respond for another lap.

When Hamilton finally made his first stop on lap 18 he fell back behind Schumacher once again.

Hamilton continued to throw all he had at the Mercedes, finally making it by on lap 27 as Schumacher had a poor run down to Ascari.

He began catching Alonso once both of them had switched to the medium tyres. From 8.3 seconds behind on lap 37, Hamilton began the 53rd and final tour one second behind the Ferrari.

Hamilton had ended his 2009 race at Monza in the barriers taking to make a pass on the last lap, but there was to be no repeat of that this time. He had his DRS open as they blasted from Lesmo 2 down to Ascari but it was too little, too late to get on the podium.

Having questioned whether Schumacher had made too many defensive moves on the team radio during the race, Hamilton offered no criticism of his driving afterwards:

“We were a little bit slow on the straight today, which meant it was hard to get past Michael, who was faster along the straight even when I had my DRS activated.

“I had to really fight Schumacher, but the fact that I finished ahead of him meant everything was okay. That?s racing.”

Lewis Hamilton 2011 form guide

Jenson Button

Jenson Button, McLaren, Monza, 2011

Jenson Button, McLaren, Monza, 2011

Start tyre Soft
Pit stop 1 Soft 21.66s
Pit stop 2 Medium 22.095s

Button tested new, low-drag parts in FP1 but discarded some of them in the afternoon session.

He said he was happier with the car on Saturday but aborted his final run in Q3, certain it was not going to be better than his initial effort: “I didn?t get a great first sector and I just carried that all the way through the lap so I was a tenth-and-a-half down.

“I knew through the last corner, the previous lap was perfect through there, so I looked down at the speed and just pulled into the pits knowing that I was a tenth-and-a-half off my best.”

A problem with his clutch caused a poor start in which he lost places to both Ferraris and Michael Schumacher. At the restart, Mark Webber passed him as well.

Webber’s collision with Massa left Button clear to attack Schumacher and Hamilton. This he did very successfully on lap 16, passing the pair of them within four corners.

During his second stint Button drew closer to Alonso, then began to drop back as the Ferrari had its usual strong end to a stint. But once they switched to the medium tyres Button was on the attack.

Alonso struggled to get traction out of the Rettifilio chicane on lap 35 and Button pounced, diving up the inside at the Curva Grande to take second place and his third podium finish in a row.

“On the whole, the team?s done a great job this weekend,” said Button, “but it?s the little problems that are frustrating.

“If you have one of those, then you?re not going to beat Red Bull and Sebastian. Hopefully, we?ll have no problems at the next race because if we can get everything together then we can challenge for a win.”

Jenson Button 2011 form guide

2011 Italian Grand Prix

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111 comments on McLaren: Button leads Hamilton home again

  1. Hamilton has clearly lost some confidence in his usual style of driving, and he can’t be at all happy with what happened in Monza. Can’t believe that he and his engineers thought that having the car hitting the limiter so early on the straights was a good idea! Even if he had got ahead of Vettel, he would have been a sitting duck anywhere on the first lap because Vettel’s car was faster with much the same short gearing set up. Play to your strengths for heavens sake (Merc engine)!

    Vettel, F1 WDC 2011

  2. Anthony said on 13th September 2011, 1:12

    Keith, here’s another view on the Hamilton-Schumacher incident DC and MB were talking about

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3le-WBlVKs

    I personally think Schumacher crossed a line there

    • Kyle (@hammerheadgb) said on 13th September 2011, 1:49

      From this view Hamilton was much more alongside that the other angles suggested. I think from this view it’s a clear and blatant chop which warranted investigation.

    • sumedh said on 13th September 2011, 4:08

      Sorry, but Michael did not turn right to block Hamilton, he turned right to take the racing line, which he is entitled too as he was ahead.

      Hamilton tried to do what he always does, stick his car down to the inside and bank on the other driver to back off. He did that to Maldonaldo and Massa in Monaco and to Michael here. His move on Kobayashi on Spa was also dependent on Kobayashi playing safe. If you want to go back, look at Monza 2008, where he drove Glock off the road or at Germany 2008, where he drove Massa off the road.

      Hamilton needs to realize that other drivers now know his tactics and fight back to him. Gone are the days where only Hamilton was the racer.
      Just look at the replays of Maldonaldo and Massa incidents at Monaco and today’s replay with Schumacher, Hamilton fans would like to believe that the other driver turned into Hamilton, but the fact is that Hamilton put his car in a disappearing wedge every time.

      • That’s not the racing line, watch MSC in the previous 5 laps.

        I’m not saying MSC was wrong, but that wasn’t the line he normally took, definite defending rightly or wrongly.

  3. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 13th September 2011, 1:17

    For all Hamilton’s denials that he’s in a slump or that his aggressive driving style is doing more harm than good, I found it pretty telling that the team had to encourage him.

    Equally telling was the way Hamilton had a thirty-lap grudge match with Schumacher, but Button passed him on the first attempt.

    When you look at Hamilton’s results, he’s never been beaten by his team-mate. 2007 was the only year someone actually came close to beating him; he and Alonso tied on points, but Hamilton placed in front because he had had the more-recent win. Otherwise, he beat Kovalainen by 45 points in 2008, by 27 points in 2009, and he beat Button by 26 in 2010. Button’s current lead might be just 9 points with six races to go, but I do believe the last time Hamilton’s team-mate was in front of him in the points was at the 2007 Bahrain Grand Prix – his third race. He and Alonso were tied on points at Monaco in 2007, but Hamilton remained in front for the rest of the season. Hamilton is in a position he’s never been in before, and combined with his frequent visits to the stewards (though he’s been clean for two races now) and the increased public scrutiny of his driving, it’s all combining to take its toll on him.

    • Kyle (@hammerheadgb) said on 13th September 2011, 1:52

      Button led the championship outright after winning the Chinese GP in 2010, and held that lead after finishing 5th in the next race in Spain (where LH crashed 2 laps from home). So that point is inaccurate – but I do still see where you’re coming from; no team-mate has put so much pressure on him so deep into the season.

  4. vho (@) said on 13th September 2011, 1:51

    Obviously every driver wants to beat their team mate – it’s what you’re measured on. With LH & JB they get along quite well and I don’t think LH would be as aggressive in beating JB as he would with FA. Kovalainen just couldn’t keep up no matter what. I think LH respects a team mate that shows equal respect back to him. It’s also easier for them to get along as they’re both British. LH can see that he can learn from JB’s ability in changing conditions and is enjoying the friendly rivalry. The pair of them are unlikely to deliberately ruin each other’s race strategy – like what FA did to LH and what Villeneuve did to JB when they were at BAR.

  5. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 13th September 2011, 3:06

    Button have shown this year what a driver he is,there are some people who think he is the least deserving WC well for them Button may seems to have an answer.

  6. Sergio Perez said on 13th September 2011, 9:02

    I’m a Hamilton Fan, but i have to say he has really disappointed me this year. We all know he is fast, he has the talent, but if some poor traits make him change to what we saw in Italy- a tame, scared of going to the limit driver- he is finished. Everyone fails and makes mistakes. Italy’s Hamilton, however, didn’t have that “fire” in his driving. And a cunning Button is slowly swallowing him and turning him into a second tier driver. Hamilton’s main difference with Senna is that he lacks the determination to win. Butto coming out and “defending” Hamilton is the sort of condescending move that puts him above Hamilton in the team’s structure. He’s the big boy, the leader defending te team. Senna never allowed that from Prost. Hamilton needs to concentrate o developing the car, on talking with the technicians, of learning to understand the intricacies of the technical side. Vettel is actually, from what I’ve seen, maturing to become this individual- a true great, someone that can win world championships and create championship winnin teams.

    • Sergio Perez said on 13th September 2011, 11:44

      (Keith, sorry, my previous post was not properly written (in an iPhone). This one is the same but with what I wanted to say)

      I’m a Hamilton fan, but i have to say he has really disappointed me this year. We all know he is fast, he has the talent, but if some poor races make him change to the Hamilton we saw in Italy- a tame, scared of pushing to the limit driver- he is finished. Everyone fails and makes mistakes. The best drivers have their bad moments.Italy’s Hamilton, however, was not, to me, a great driver having a bad moment, but of an average middle of the pack driver that doesn’t have that “fire” in his driving, which is something I normally associate with Button. And a cunning Button is slowly swallowing him and turning him into a second tier driver with his charm and understanding of the political and backstage workings of the sport. Button is a much “smarter” driver than Hamilton. You can see that on his tire choices and strategies, as well as on the way he talks to the media. Button coming out and “defending” Hamilton is the sort of condescending move that puts him above Hamilton in the team’s structure. He’s the big boy, the leader defending te team. Senna never allowed that from Prost. Hamilton’s main difference with Senna is that he lacks the determination to win and the mental structure to respond to the pressure of what is formula 1. Hamilton right now is in a moment of his career were he is either to become a great like Senna, or a Montoya, Raikonnen, etc, which were great talents but couldn’t cope with the whole F1 “world” and its intricacies. Hamilton needs to concentrate o developing the car, on talking with the technicians, of learning to understand the intricacies of the technical side. Vettel is actually, from what I’ve seen, maturing to become this individual- a true great, someone that can win world championships and create championship winnin teams.

  7. Theoddkiwi said on 13th September 2011, 9:03

    My take on the simplicity of Button passing Hamilton ans Schumacher was purely opertunistic.

    Button passed Hamilton because Schumacher had forced Ham to back off buy squeezing him on to the grass. So he lost momentum and Button cruised passed.

    He passed Schumacher because of the extended fight with Hamilton had worn out his tyres and had little fight left. Hamilton had done all the hard work of wearing Schu down and again Button cruised passed. Remember Schu pitted just after that. His tyre were gone.

    Button didnt do anything special, he just waited for the other two to have issues. Its clever but not special.

  8. I’m a fan of JB, but also respect LH who is an exciting driver to watch. I just wish JB could improve his starts (and qualifying of course!), then who knows he could actually be challenging for some more victories. Seems like most races he is down to 5th or worse at the end of the first lap. Difficult to beat Vettel and win races like that.

  9. Brian Johnson (@brian-johnson) said on 13th September 2011, 10:49

    To be honest I love both Jenson and Lewis,and I am a Mclaren fan,it’s that Hamilton is just a lil bit better,last year if Hamilton wheel didn’t fail one lap to go at the Spanish Grand Prix he would have been Champion.I think that with a better car(i hope it’s going to be next year),that both of them can be Champions,it’s just the little things will separate them :D

  10. Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 13th September 2011, 11:05

    as Ferrari/Alonso fan i consider Lewis Hamilton the only driver on the grid almost in the same level of Fernando Alonso and for those who say that “button is more complete driver than hamilton” with all my respect i think they do not understand formula1.

    hamilton makes mistakes sometimes because of his driving style he’s a manipulator driver (late breaking+over-steer) and he’s always taking risks & pushing the car on it’s limit

    button rarely makes mistakes also because of his driving style very smooth on the tyres always takes corners with the under-steer without risking anything

    Hamilton is the kind of drivers that if he gets a poor chance of overtaking he’ll make the move he’s driving into a disappearing gap Button no even when he had a good chance he’ll make the move only if he’s 100% sure

    Finally i think that the real difference between LH & JB lies in the way think(mentality) Button when he comes 2nd,3rd… in qualifying or in the race always he’s satisfied and congratulating the winners.. Hamilton when he does not come 1st he’s always frustrated

  11. GameR_K (@gamer_k) said on 13th September 2011, 13:56

    I have refrained from posting anything about Hamilton for some time now but, didn’t Hamilton have Senna etched on the back of his overalls this Saturday? I don’t know what he is trying to convey. He is Lewis Hamilton, not Ayrton Senna. Just because he drives a McLaren and wears a yellow helmet doesn’t make him Senna. He should concentrate on what he is rather than trying to become something he is not. 2007 was a very tough year for me to choose my favorite driver because I was torn between Hamilton, Kimi and Alonso. Nowadays I don’t even bring him in the equation. On a bright note, his press interaction after the race was very refreshing. If only he could have done that after Monaco.

    • Theoddkiwi said on 13th September 2011, 15:35

      I think people take his comment in Monaco to seriously. He was making a Joke it was not intended to be a serious racial slur, but it was not the smartest joke to make, mostly because most of the world did’nt get it. It was the sort of joke him and his friends use amongst themselves

      On the Senna thing, I think he had something to do with the Senna movie, Lewis is in the credits at the end of the movie, but i went past to quickly to see why.

  12. The poster who said Hamilton get bored when is not in front and with a chance to win is spot on.

    Hamilton is a champion, champions do not settle for 2nd best, he will rebound and come on top of JB, iam 100% certain. JB didnt convincingle beat LH in any of their races point one.

  13. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 15th September 2011, 7:38

    A good race from Button, taking advantage of the Hamilton and Schumacher situation was sublime.

    It was good to watch such a long battle between drivers. In the age of DRS (not that I’m against it) it was unusual to see such a lengthy battle. More like that might just keep the less fanatic amongst us tuned in until the end of the season.

  14. Button on his prime form is only nine points ahead of Lewis, on his worst season (even winning two races). That’s the difference between them.

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