McLaren: Another collision, another penalty for Hamilton

2011 Singapore GP team review

Lewis Hamilton’s troubled season continued in Singapore after another collision with a rival.

Lewis Hamilton Jenson Button
Qualifying position 4 3
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’44.809 (+0.005) 1’44.804
Race position 5 2
Laps 61/61 61/61
Pit stops 4 3

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 61
Lewis Hamilton 124.841 117.452 116.933 115.442 115.347 115.268 114.993 115.446 116.511 118.763 126.045 139.334 124.824 139.272 125.744 130.988 114.525 113.867 114.328 115.284 115.676 114.928 116.555 115.565 114.994 113.744 114.575 114.442 138.057 160.249 125.624 122.074 127.058 116.596 119.272 116.214 114.291 113.325 113.189 111.623 111.702 111.69 112.795 113.007 113.368 113.503 114.416 124.756 133.334 112.778 112.257 112.805 112.066 110.832 112.765 112.411 111.633 112.262 113.816 113.585 115.484
Jenson Button 119.507 116.428 115.779 115.41 115.43 115.484 115.104 114.991 115.285 115.282 115.604 115.68 116.511 124.378 135.594 114.354 114.155 114.356 114.322 114.322 114.063 114.107 114.917 114.114 114.702 115.713 113.876 113.6 114.059 146.125 159.646 166.74 159.95 116.023 112.181 112.873 112.246 112.201 112.017 111.984 111.712 111.698 111.665 111.908 112.123 111.987 112.647 120.256 132.904 110.4 111.441 111.061 109.293 108.454 108.704 108.712 109.001 109.153 111.929 111.22 113.113

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Singapore, 2011

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Singapore, 2011

Start tyre Super soft
Pit stop 1 Super soft 30.142s
Pit stop 2 Soft 33.456s
Pit stop 3 Super soft 30.706s
Pit stop 4 Soft 29.876s

Hamilton described his qualifying session as “eventful”. He damaged part of the car’s floor in Q1 which was repaired for the next session.

He picked up a puncture in Q2 when he ran over debris from Kamui Kobayashi’s crash and didn’t have enough fuel in Q3:

“We had an issue with the refuelling process ?ǣ we couldn?t get enough fuel into the car quick enough. In the end, we just ran out of time, so I couldn?t fit in my final run.”

McLaren request that Hamilton be allowed to change his damaged tyre before the race but were denied, costing him a set of super soft tyres. In the event, that was the least of his problems.

Hamilton made a good start but cautiously backing out of a lunge down the inside of Mark Webber cost him – he slipped down to seventh and then to cap it all was passed by Michael Schumacher heading into turn seven.

On lap four Schumacher ran slightly wide at turn five, Hamilton pressed his DRS button and he was past the Mercedes much more quickly than he had been in Monza. The next time by he took the sister car of Nico Rosberg.

It took Hamilton four laps to get within range of Felipe Massa. The pair pitted together on lap 11 and Hamilton came out right behind the Ferrari.

He had a look on the outside of Memorial corner and was in the process of pulling back behind the Ferrari when he carelessly clipped Massa’s right-rear tyre with his front wing, damaging both.

Unusually, McLaren kept him out for a lap with the left-hand portion of his front wing completely destroyed. They then switched him to the soft tyres with the intention of keeping him out as long as possible.

The stewards handed Hamilton a drive-through penalty – a straightforward and non-controversial decision given that he had wrecked Massa’s race. He served it on lap 16.

When the safety car came out Hamilton had done 16 laps on his soft tyres and the team decided to switch him to super softs so he could attack in the final stint.

This he did, passing Sergio Perez, Adrian Sutil, Nico Rosberg and Paul di Resta in succession to take fifth.

He had to repeat the process having made a final stop for another set of tyres on lap 48.

Massa claimed Hamilton ignored him in the media area afterwards. The Ferrari driver was seen interrupting a television interview with Hamilton to sarcastically tell him “good job, well done”.

Hamilton does not appear to have made any comment about his latest collision at the moment, making only passing reference to it in his remarks after the race.

Lewis Hamilton 2011 form guide

Jenson Button

Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Singapore, 2011

Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Singapore, 2011

Start tyre Super soft
Pit stop 1 Soft 30.169s
Pit stop 2 Soft 29.921s
Pit stop 3 Super soft 30.305s

Button out-qualified Hamilton for the fourth time this year but was concerned about tyre temperatures: “We?re putting a lot of heat into the tyres ?ǣ so if we push hard in the first sector, we lose rear-end grip by the third sector.

“It?s difficult trying to find that balance, but I think we got reasonably close to it this evening.”

Button, who took medication for dehydration and a stomach complaint before the race, easily out-dragged Webber to take second place at the start – and held the place for every lap of the race.

He dropped back from Sebastian Vettel early on and although he gained some ground during the safety car period, he lost more time passing lapped cars.

Kamui Kobayashi proved particularly troublesome, earning himself a drive-through penalty after badly delaying Button

Button found more time than Vettel in his final stint on super soft tyres and cut Vettel’s lead from 12.7 seconds on lap 52 to 6.5 on lap 57.

From that point the gap between them varied wildly as they passed through large clumps of lapped cars.

Button started the final lap 6.5 seconds behind Vettel and ended it just 1.7 behind – the narrowest the margin had been all race.

He had some complaints about traffic after the race, but stopped short of saying it cost him a potential win: “If you look at the time at the end of the race, I was 1.7s behind Sebastian. I lost more than that behind Kobayashi but I?m sure Seb would have been driving at a different pace if he knew I was four seconds closer.

“The traffic that we had today is disappointing, I would say and it?s something that we need to concentrate on for the next race because I spent over a lap behind Kobayashi.

“There was no reason for him not to let me past, he had a clear circuit in front and I was lapping him, so very, very frustrating and something that we need to resolve for the future.”

Jenson Button 2011 form guide

2011 Singapore Grand Prix

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Image ?? McLaren, Singapore GP/Sutton

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145 comments on McLaren: Another collision, another penalty for Hamilton

  1. IceBlue (@iceblue) said on 27th September 2011, 23:00

    Louis Hamilton missed winning the F1 Championship in his rookie year for one reason: Louis Hamilton. It’s been about the same since 2008. Fewer mistakes means a better chance at the Championship….except for Vettel, that is.

  2. Rlewis said on 28th September 2011, 0:11

    I believe that when this season ends everyone will have the opportunity to truly assess how the rules changes affected the drivers. For those of us who have followed the sport for more than 30 years it is clear that the change to tires, DRS and Kees have played well to some, and not so well to others. Notice that in most cases most drivers are competing more with their own teammates than with anyone else. This is not a big deal for the lower teams but it is for those that offer parity to their drivers. All of the top teams have shown their strengths and weaknesses despite changes over the season. The Ferrari is a great car, it has good mid range performance which seems to drop off at the end. The red bull seems to be great for the first 2 thirds of the race, drops a bit near the end, but can hold it’s own thanks to raw mechanical and aero grip. The mcLaren seems to be a bit sluggish for the first half and tends to pick it up on light fuel loads. This means that they must stay very close to have any chance of a good finish.

    What I see in this season, outside of the excessive penalties, is that all of the drivers, with the exception of Vettel, trying to make the best of their hands over the weekend. It seems that Lewis has had to work a bit harder to get himself into position to be competitive at the end. Button, for whatever reason has been a bit lucky, but he has made that luck and taken full advantage of it. Unlike last years car which was built a bit more around Lewis, considering that Jenson was not then a part of the team, this years car seems to work well for both. Alonso has the full ear of Ferrari but there car just does not show any special pace. The red bull has evolved a bit around Seb, but the car works well in all areas. Webber has not been a big challenge, but he does keep the others honest.

    This is the first season for the new rules and I am sure that there will be changes. Some drivers will have the chance to evaluate how changing their approach will make life easier for them. Those Like Lewis, kind of caught up in the moment will be able to step away and realize that there are other ways to win races.

    • vho (@) said on 28th September 2011, 8:21

      Absolutely right about how someone makes their luck. People argue that Lewis was lucky to win the WDC in 2008 – but at the end of the day it’s how you convert them. You have a series of good luck and bad luck and it’s how you recover from the bad and convert from the good. Luck has nothing to do with incidents that you are at fault or the fact that your actions got you into the situation – you took a gamble and you lost.

      Jenson and Lewis’ cars are actually slightly different in that each use different brakes and I heard some commentator was saying even the front wings are different. The fact is McLaren is able to accommodate for two different driving styles and it’s taken Jenson (and McLaren) to come up to speed in what combination is the best for them. Lewis on the other hand has pretty much set in stone what he likes and hence has the ability to extract everything out of the car. From this we see a big performance increase from Jenson and not so much from Lewis. Jenson is coming out on top at the moment as he doesn’t take the level of risk that Lewis does and due to his experience, Jenson tends to strategise his races rather than just going all flat out and having to get a call from the team to start conserving the tyres/fuel/brakes etc. Lewis is certainly faster a majority of the time and is reflective of his pace in qualifying, but he just doesn’t know how to maximise the full potential of his car over a full race distance.

  3. vho (@) said on 28th September 2011, 7:56

    Lewis is a huge admirer of Senna and has cited Senna’s most famous quotes – “…And if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver…”. The problem is that Lewis sometimes refuses to believe in non-existent gaps and his level of skill in pulling off a passing move in those gaps are far from what Senna sees as the norm.

  4. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 28th September 2011, 8:16

    Oh, I just knew that the tyre locking up would be some peoples saving grace. Give it up, its embarrassing.

    Great race from Button. No one can complain about the back end of the season being boring if he keeps up those kind of performances. Well done to him.

    Unfortunate for Hamilton, it was a genuine mistake. He could not have been seen to carry on his race unimpeded, so the drive-through was appropriate.

    • vho (@) said on 28th September 2011, 8:26

      As halifaxf1fan posted,

      It is funny how Hamilton fans argued quite loudly that Hamilton was in complete control when he was ‘hooning’ in Australia or doing 180′s in the middle of a busy racetrack in Hungary but now when he has a tiny puff of smoke from one of his front tires he is completely out of control and just a passenger!

      … yes that is quite an embarrassing excuse – something that IMO not even Lewis himself would buy into.

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