Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Korea, 2011

McLaren: The old Hamilton reappears

2011 Korean GP team reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton was back on form in the Korean Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton Jenson Button
Qualifying position 1 3
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’35.820 (-0.306) 1’36.126
Race position 2 4
Laps 55/55 55/55
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 54 55
Lewis Hamilton 108.919 105.696 105.218 105.02 105.639 105.573 105.518 105.378 104.812 104.954 104.923 104.965 104.874 105.01 109.348 120.361 133.919 143.322 167.09 154.529 102.896 102.577 102.293 102.367 102.358 102.657 103.174 102.766 102.582 102.731 102.845 103.373 108.04 121.77 101.81 101.846 101.912 101.804 101.626 101.377 101.359 101.35 101.25 101.187 101.192 101.197 101.549 101.257 101.328 100.605 101.213 100.813 100.869 100.459 100.513
Jenson Button 111.861 106.873 106.384 105.883 105.837 105.896 105.488 105.317 105.014 105.453 105.711 106.072 110.71 122.46 105.039 103.636 135.904 132.428 166.835 153.281 104.306 103.306 103.429 102.997 102.994 103.095 102.907 102.66 102.804 102.538 102.737 103.215 102.945 106.834 119.127 101.851 101.772 101.689 101.588 101.367 101.129 101.314 101.283 101.23 100.997 100.867 101.36 101.168 101.491 101.071 100.943 100.978 101.031 100.874 100.709

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Korea, 2011
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Korea, 2011
Start tyre Super soft
Pit stop 1 Super soft 20.846s
Pit stop 2 Soft 20.584s

Rain or shine, Lewis Hamilton looked quick in practice. He carried it through into qualifying, topping all three parts and breaking Red Bull’s stranglehold on first place this year.

Having done that, he failed to lead a lap during the race. He came under immediate attack from Sebastian Vettel and the start, left a gap for the Red Bull driver to squeeze through at turn four and that was that.

Hamilton slipped back, battling a mysterious understeer problem which led him to make all the changes he could in an effort to make the car turn in.

Under the circumstances he drove a fine race – easily the best since his Nurburgring win – to fend off Mark Webber’s attempts to take second.

His only slip-up came after switching to soft tyres for his final stint. He ran wide at turn four and Webber pounced. The pair ran thrillingly side-by side through the following sequence of fast turns, Hamilton clinging to the inside line to keep Webber back.

At one point Webber got past him at turn one, but Hamilton lined up the Red Bull driver in the DRS zone, took the place back with ease, and went on to finish second.

This was a welcome return for the old Hamilton: superbly quick over a single lap and excellent in wheel-to-wheel battle. He called it “one of my strongest races of the season”.

“There was so much pressure from Mark behind and it would have been so easy to make a mistake, lock up or go wide ?ǣ but I?m really satisfied that I didn?t do so once. I believe that withstanding pressure is the mark of a world champion, and I think I showed that in today?s race.”

But his downbeat mood even after taking pole position on Saturday told that all is still not well beneath the surface.

Lewis Hamilton 2011 form guide

Jenson Button

Start tyre Super soft
Pit stop 1 Super soft 20.766s
Pit stop 2 Soft 20.758s

Button was crowded out on the first lap, falling from third to sixth, and that dictated the rest of his race.

He admitted afterwards he thought Webber was alongside him at turn three on the first lap, and was surprised to find Massa there when he turned in. He ran wide trying to re-pass Massa at the next corner, falling behind Webber and Fernando Alonso.

Button dropped back from the group initially but closed in later on in the stint, then made for the pits on lap 14. Nico Rosberg followed him in, but got out ahead of the McLaren driver.

The pair swapped places twice as they returned to the track – Rosberg running wide at the first corner, then re-passing Button in the DRS zone. Button made the decisive move on the next lap, using DRS to his advantage.

Despite that delay both the Ferraris came out behind him, promoting him to fourth. He caught Webber but even as the Red Bull driver was queued up behind Hamilton, Button couldn’t find a way past for third.

Like Hamilton, Button complained of understeer: “Towards the end of each stint, the front end would drop away: I just couldn?t get close enough in the last sector.

“I added more front-end at the stops, but I had lots of understeer so I couldn?t get close enough to Mark to use DRS.”

Jenson Button 2011 form guide

2011 Korean Grand Prix

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