Hamilton did not have a puncture at Suzuka

2011 Japanese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Suzuka, 2011

No puncture for Hamilton in Japan

Lewis Hamilton’s abrupt loss of pace at the end of his first stint in Suzuka was not down to a puncture, as previously suspected.

A Pirelli spokesperson confirmed to F1 Fanatic the McLaren driver did not suffer a puncture.

Hamilton was running in second place when he began losing time on lap six.

On lap eight he ran wide at Spoon curve and was passed by Jenson Button and was caught by Fernando Alonso by the end of the lap, when he pitted.

Speaking to the BBC in Korea Hamilton said: “My tyres had degraded quite a lot and I backed off which lost me a huge amount of time. It turns out the we didn’t have a puncture it was just heavy, heavy degrading.”

Update: McLaren have supplied more information on Hamilton’s tyre degradation, read this comment for more.

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126 comments on Hamilton did not have a puncture at Suzuka

  1. vho (@) said on 13th October 2011, 16:31

    Keith, the link from your article takes me to http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/formula_one/15287313.stm. Can you highlight the area in the article where Lewis had claimed to have commented “My tyres had degraded quite a lot and I backed off which lost me a huge amount of time. It turns out the we didn’t have a puncture it was just heavy, heavy degrading.”? Perhaps you linked it to the wrong article.

    In the most recent comment from McLaren MD Jonathan Neale on 12 October, he defended Hamilton’s performance, saying his strategy was ruined by a puncture in his first stint.

  2. vho (@) said on 13th October 2011, 16:42

    In the official Formula 1 site they posted the press conference from today. http://www.formula1.com/news/headlines/2011/10/12642.html, Lewis did not mention anything about his tyre problems in Suzuka. So far I have not found another site stating that Lewis did NOT have a puncture. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to jump to conclusions but the fact is there is nothing else out on the web at the time I write this that states the same claims that Keith has made int his article.

  3. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 13th October 2011, 17:45

    If that’s the case he was doing fine until the point both he & Button came to 130R,he lost the performance greatly,was there any message to Hamilton not to fight with Button as the later had the chance to fight for the WC?

  4. Grammo (@grammo) said on 13th October 2011, 18:54

    I don’t doubt his tyres were degrading. BUT the way he slowed down after Button passed was purely to slow Alonso down so he couldn’t pass Button in the pits. Which is exactely what Colthard was hinting at.

  5. sngt2 said on 13th October 2011, 21:24

    Here’s a link to a video of Lewis saying that he didnt have a puncture.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKXCJe9KZSo&feature=feedu. I have a lot of respect for lewis and you can see how dejected he is.. he needs a good result, and i am a Alonso fan.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 13th October 2011, 21:30

      Thanks for posting that link, couldn’t find it earlier today. @vho will be interested in that one for sure.

      • vho (@) said on 14th October 2011, 13:58


        Yes, thanks for the link sngt2 as the BBC doesn’t allow videos to be published to my region of the world.

        The reason I questioned Keith’s article but more so the BBC one that he referred to did not make any mention of Lewis’ comment – pretty poor journalism for missing out a critical piece of information relating to Lewis’ lack of performance around lap 9. Nevertheless, there is still nothing published on ESPNF1 yet either.

        It’s not that I don’t trust Keith’s articles, but he accused me of jumping to conclusions regarding Lewis’ puncture after I’d heard and read information from reputable sources – like Martin Whitmarsh, the BBC broadcast, Jonathan Neale etc. I refute that I was jumping to conclusions based on the information I had at the time that I wrote the comment – on the 9th October. How could I be jumping to conclusions if I was merely the messenger of information published by those closest to the team? It wasn’t until the 13th October that Keith had the opportunity to refer to Lewis’ admitting to not having a puncture – and I can understand that from time to time people retract their comments once they’ve found further evidence that supports the opposite. So on the 9th October when I commented about Lewis’ puncture it was correct from my perspective that I was relaying the message from reputable sources and I wasn’t jumping to any conclusions. It’s a pity that Keith chose not take a humble approach to advising his members of Lewis’ latest comments from the BBC – but engage in a tit-for-tat approach – the kind of behaviour that I find diminishes any respect for the founder of this site.

        BTW, I’m not looking for excuses for Lewis as I’m not a fan of his – but I don’t hate him either. I just thought it could’ve been a more exciting race to have Lewis in the mix with Jenson, Vettel, and Alonso.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 14th October 2011, 14:22

          @vho your welcome. I was glad about finding this video available as well as it was pretty revealing that what was treated as a given fact by most on Sunday suddenly turned out to have been not true.

          I think we had one time before this year where Pirelli after checking the tyre cleared it was not a puncture this year.

          Fully agree with you on how having Hamilton up front might have really lightened up the action.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 14th October 2011, 14:46


          You (and others) commented that I overlooked Hamilton having a puncture during the race when I wrote my race report.

          Of course I did no such thing. I did not know for certain he’d had a puncture, and nor did you. The difference is I waited until I found out one way or the other by talking to the people who would know. You, on the other hand, jumped to a conclusion based on second-hand information.

          I invite anyone to compare those approaches and tell me which of them is “poor journalism”.

          • vho (@) said on 14th October 2011, 15:53


            You (and others) commented that I overlooked Hamilton having a puncture during the race when I wrote my race report.

            My comment was that I observed Lewis having a tyre puncture on lap 9 – it was a response to JUGNU’s comment – nowhere did I reference it to your article, unlike some others that accused you of being biased. I wrote a comment to those referring to the assumed biased in your defence, but it never got published because it went to moderation.

            Of course I can’t know for certain as I wasn’t physically there to inspect the condition of Lewis’ tyre – hence I relied on information that was broadcasted by the BBC at the time. McLaren had told Ted Kravitz that it was a puncture during the race… And McLaren confirmed it in comments made by Martin Whitmarsh post race and by Jonathan Neale on the 12 October – you could hardly classify that as being second hand information?

            In regards to my remark at “poor journalism” it was in reference to the BBC article – and not to yours – you merely provided the link to it. The reason why I say the BBC article is poor is that they don’t allow streaming of their videos in all countries and they did not mention it in their text about the puncture.

          • vho (@) said on 14th October 2011, 16:16

            The reason why I say the BBC article is poor is that they don’t allow streaming of their videos in all countries and they did not mention it in their text about the puncture.

            Actually not about the puncture but about Lewis’ comment on not having a puncture.

            In all honestly, I usually don’t make direct comments to the articles anyway – nothing against you – as they’re generally about the facts that you have at hand during publication. There are times that I have seen where you or another author may go back to the article to fine tune it. But in order to get the story out as quick as possible you have to rely on the facts that are presented before you – so hence I rarely make comments about the article itself.

            What I do find amusing are comments from others in regards to excuses for their favourite drivers, conspiracy theories, and different angles of analysis of races etc. Sometimes I won’t even read the article and skip straight to the comments instead.

  6. So in Suzuka we had a pretty good idea about what does it mean a sudden “drop-off” when talking about Pirellis…

  7. jw393 (@) said on 13th October 2011, 22:46

    “Real racing happens with equality”

    What do people think about this With the current tires in mind?

  8. P King said on 14th October 2011, 0:00

    I am sure that I heard BBC commentators say that Lewis went out on his first Q3 attempt using scrubbed tyres, and that was the same for all the other drivers. They all then came back for a 2nd run to be attempted on brand new tyres.

  9. Oliver said on 14th October 2011, 2:01

    He then went on to drive a very long stint on the same softs, at least 3 – 4 laps longer than Vettel and Button.
    The problem is not the tyres, it is Mclaren.
    They didn’t send him out during qualifying at the right time hence he was forced to attempt 2 qualifying runs on a set of tyres on a track were teams were trying to make the minimum number of laps possible.

    Qualifying is when the tyres take the most abuse and Mclaren is not getting Hamilton to run efficiently. Someone is not doing his job properly or Hamilton is no longer their priority.

  10. ed24f1 (@ed24f1) said on 14th October 2011, 4:25

    That just makes Whitmarsh’s comments that the reason Hamilton hit Massa was that he was distracted by a puncture (even though the supposed puncture was a stint earlier than the Massa crash anyway) even more ridiculous.

  11. Wooolfy said on 14th October 2011, 6:07

    Something to bear in mind when accidents occur is the tire conditions at the time. Worn tires not only affect lap times but also control and cornering. I’m not convinced that Lewis is harder on tires as the lap time graphs show that in his 2nd stint, he did more laps that Jenson, but on an average the differences are minimal.

    I believe that the cars (Both McLarens) were set up wrong with lower than the required down force evident by the high top speed in each sector of the race and also the cars were under fueled. This subdued the drivers and hence strategy, tires and timing played a larger role.

  12. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 14th October 2011, 6:22

    Have had an email from McLaren explaining more about what happened to Hamilton on that lap and how they came to understand the problem was tyre degradation rather than a puncture:

    On Sunday evening we felt that it was a puncture, but the picture became clearer that what had alerted us was a sensor indicating a loss of pressure from the right-rear.

    That message was radioed to Lewis as he literally accelerated away from Spoon – so he faced the dilemma of taking 130R flat – with the knowledge that a potential puncture could spit him straight into the wall – or ease off, which made him vulnerable from behind.

    That subsequently proved to have been caused by degradation – although that wasn’t clear until after we’d left the track on Sunday.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 14th October 2011, 8:10

      Good follow-up, it explains his very slow last lap on those tyres at least, and indicates that the 1.4xs on the previous lap was a sign of the cliff hitting him.

      Did they also perhaps go into the question of whether HAM used old tyres for a “banker” lap in Q3 for his first, and as it turned out only, timed lap there to answer the question about the tyres age?

      Would be great to have that cleared up too, as I heard BBC 5live repeating HAM was on older tyres in that first stint to explain why he had to come in early with degradation in the FP2 broadcast.

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