Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Suzuka, 2011

Hamilton did not have a puncture at Suzuka

2011 Japanese Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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”

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

  2. “Real racing happens with equality”

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

  3. 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.

    1. That may be what they thought at the time but I don’t see how it squares with this:


      1. If you listen to the replay of this morning’s Korea practice 2 on BBC 1 red button (on now), at about 75 minutes in to P2 (i.e. about 15 minutes before the end of P2), David Croft says he has checked it out with McLaren and that Lewis DID use scrubbed tyres in Suzuka Q3.

        Croft says that Lewis had used those tyres for his Q2 run.

        1. I did hear that, but as I said in that comment above I don’t see how squares with the facts as I understand them. If anyone else can figure it out please do.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. @bosyber

        Did they also perhaps go into the question of whether HAM used old tyres for a “banker” lap in Q3 for his first

        No but, as explained above, I don’t see how he could have.

        1. Yes, I know, and your analysis was quite convincing, that’s why it would be great if McLaren could just confirm it; I don’t see Pirelli getting it wrong, or they would have already mentioned it on twitter, with how active they are :)

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