McLaren: Another race to forget for Hamilton

2011 Indian GP team review

Another penalty and another collision with Felipe Massa was par for the course for Lewis Hamilton in 2011.

Lewis Hamilton Jenson Button
Qualifying position 5 4
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’24.474 (-0.476) 1’24.950
Race position 7 2
Laps 60/60 60/60
Pit stops 3 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 56 57 58 59 60
Lewis Hamilton 99.326 95.036 94.083 93.294 93.888 92.746 92.208 92.132 91.958 91.712 91.72 91.719 91.541 91.629 91.279 93.9 109.323 90.514 90.52 90.501 90.194 90.59 92.157 99.694 114.358 91.064 90.586 90.85 90.82 91.347 90.022 91.116 89.474 90.081 89.735 89.287 89.44 89.757 89.741 89.017 89.138 89.61 89.323 89.84 91.764 110.49 89.701 89.161 89.17 89.103 89.561 89.366 89.579 89.461 89.476 89.775 88.776 88.721 88.885 89.926
Jenson Button 96.184 94.478 93.436 92.981 93.631 92.133 91.806 91.421 91.476 91.275 91.07 91.033 91.03 90.926 90.927 91.003 90.676 92.967 107.378 90.762 90.435 90.031 90.273 89.826 89.795 90.49 90.054 89.795 89.714 90.094 89.452 89.454 89.264 89.437 89.572 88.828 88.995 88.94 89.455 88.523 89.263 89.044 88.674 88.702 88.884 91.206 107.604 88.683 88.663 88.547 88.454 88.645 88.436 88.641 88.233 88.121 88.139 88.937 89.572 87.967

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Buddh International Circuit, 2011

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Buddh International Circuit, 2011

Start tyre Soft
Pit stop 1 Soft 22.53s
Pit stop 2 Soft 27.193s
Pit stop 3 Hard 22.172s

Hamilton got his weekend off to a bad start by collecting a three-place penalty in qualifying after the stewards he had failed to slow down sufficiently while passing a yellow flag at the end of the first practice session.

Relegated from second on the grid to fifth, he slipped behind Felipe Massa at the start. He may have been put back three places in the grid but in the opening laps he did not seem to have the pace to challenge for a podium finish.

Hamilton’s attempt to pass Massa at the inside of turn five on lap 24, which ended in the pair making contact, was not his first such move. One lap earlier Massa had covered the inside line as Hamilton had gone to the outside looking to pass.

After the collision Hamilton admitted he’d tried to back out of the move because it didn’t look like Massa was going to give him space. Despite that the pair still made contact and Hamilton had to pit for a new front wing.

He said it was, “just one of those things. I really didn?t feel like I was at fault.” The stewards agreed and gave Massa a penalty.

Having fallen to ninth, Hamilton spent several laps behind Jaime Alguersuari, struggling to get a run on the Toro Rosso on the long straight. He finally got through at turn one.

However he was unable to catch either of the Mercedes and finished seventh.

Lewis Hamilton 2011 form guide

Jenson Button

Start tyre Soft
Pit stop 1 Soft 21.092s
Pit stop 2 Hard 21.838s

Button was happy with his car’s performance in the final practice session, but struggled in qualifying. He had to do a run on soft tyres to ensure his progress to Q2, which meant he could only do one run in Q3.

But Felipe Massa went off in front of him during that effort, bringing out the yellow flags. Button said he backed off – he was tenth-fastest through the sector where Massa crashed – and neither he nor anyone else was penalised for going too quickly.

Without the delay he might have qualified better than fifth. Even so Hamilton’s penalty promoted him to fourth.

He made further progress on the first lap, moving up to second: “The start off the line didn?t feel that good but I think there is such low grip off the start line.

“Then I was able to get Fernando [Alonso] into turn one. I think he went a little bit deep and I knew I had to get a good exit out of turn three. It is such a long straight.

“Got a good exit, was in Mark [Webber]‘s tow and when you are in that situation where there is a car behind you can?t do anything about it. He covered the inside, did the right thing, but I had enough speed to go around the outside and carry the speed.”

He resisted pressure from Webber in the opening laps to hold the place. But although he pitted before Sebastian Vettel at both stops and closed on the Red Bull, he never looked like getting into the lead.

Jenson Button 2011 form guide

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58 comments on McLaren: Another race to forget for Hamilton

  1. Slr (@slr) said on 31st October 2011, 17:57

    It’s a shame to see Hamilton have such a difficult race, the collision was unlucky, but his race pace was poor by his standards. I really hope we see Hamilton at his best in the last two races, and throughout 2012.

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 31st October 2011, 18:36

      Button’s lead over Hamilton is more and more certain, but what makes me worry is Lewis’ form. I too, @slr, hope he can get back to normal in 2012.

    • Becken Lima (@becken-lima) said on 1st November 2011, 2:33

      Yes, I’m a bit worry with Lewis’s form too. This race was the first one that I could see him really, really demotivated.

      He didn’t react after the crash with Massa and didn’t evolve his own pace behind those Mercedes in the rest of the race.

      Obviously this is understandable. Having Vettel grabbing pole, wins and fastest laps with that car, there’s nothing to achieve individually this year.

      Jenson is having a cracking season because he is getting his main goal: beat this driver that is Lewis in the same car.

      I bet Lewis care about that, as said by Whitmarsh, but there’s not a big motivation in beat Button this year – he have done that last year in a convincingly and comfortable way.

      I fear which Lewis we will see next year. He seems broken and miserable. He will change, but will this change deliver results in the age of DRS and Pirelli? I doubt…

    • I agree. Hamilton has been a shadow of his true self since parting with his father. Paul di Resta is handling his first year remarkably well, no doubt with the help of Hamilton Snr. Hamilton needs guidance and his new management are for popstars, not racing drivers. Maybe Eddie Jordan should volunteer to be his manager!

  2. Carl Craven said on 31st October 2011, 17:58

    I wonder when Lewis will overtake Jenson’s points tally as so many have predicted. I’m hearing incredibly absurd comments such as Mclaren over fueled Lewis’s car so he ran too heavy in the last race and didn’t have Button’s pace.

    I personally believe that this year will do Hamilton a lot of good and that he will learn from all the mistakes he has made or been forced into.

    I also believe he should let his father manage him.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 31st October 2011, 18:04

      I’m hearing incredibly absurd comments such as Mclaren over fueled Lewis’s car

      First I’ve heard of it. Where are you getting that from?

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 31st October 2011, 18:05

      I’m hearing incredibly absurd comments such as Mclaren over fueled Lewis’s car so he ran too heavy in the last race and didn’t have Button’s pace.

      And to think Vettel fans just accept that he had a poor race in Germany, Alonso fans probably accept that he had a poor race in China, Button fans likewise Korea.

      I agree that this year should do LH a lot of good, and that Button’s basically done it now, 38 points ahead with 50 up for grabs.

    • If Hamilton manages a couple of good results from the last 2 races, he wont finish many points behind Button. In a season that has been diabolic by his standards, the worst of his career thus far, while Button has had a very solid season, still shows whose the ‘top dog’ in that team.

      • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 31st October 2011, 19:18

        even if he finishes ahead of Jenson in the standings, he’ll be far behind in terms of pace, sucess, and all.

        Button’s been outstanding this year.

        • Button’s been outstanding. It’s quite much to say Hamilton has fallen far behind in pace, success and all. He has fallen behind by inopportune errors. Indeed, enough, if you look at Keith’s stats, you would never know that Hamilton has been condemned to the ashheap.

          Lewis Hamilton Jenson Button
          Qualified ahead 12 5
          Average qualifying gap -0.239s –
          Finished race ahead 6 7
          Laps spent ahead 470 404

          From these stats, you might even assume that Hamilton was ahead. But as we watched the races, we know that very many of those great Q3s were squandered, and of those many laps spent ahead of Button, too few were the last laps. Button conversely capitalized well when Hamilton had trouble. Thus, the points.

          It’s the points that count, but the data show that Button would not be advised to rest on Hamilton’s errors as the source of his own success. This is not Formula McLaren,—he is racing other teams too. He has to get quicker on Saturday and Sunday for McLaren to really take the fight to Newey.

      • LexBlair (@lexblair) said on 31st October 2011, 20:06

        +++Let´s not forget that if Button hadn´t had 2 technical failures he would be even farer ahead…while Hamilton´s retirements were all accidents—
        +++I am pretty sure being NOT accident (or incident)-prone IS also a mayor requirement to be considered a “top dog”…and while Hamilton is without question a brutally fast driver, nowadays you just seem to be needing more than that… i mean he was never to big on strategic calls, tire management and all this stuff, but he has clearly shown a performance dip in this area, this season…..
        +++Would he beat Button on one lap? Yeah he probably would or actually yeah he usually DOES….but a race has around 60 laps + a bunch of OTHER drivers….and it’s the later one that Lewis seems to have an issue with this season.
        +++He also seems to have a problem with not having the fastest car on track, but would he be really happier sitting in Vettel’s place? Driving a superior car and winning races from pole, usually with minimal “action”?

        • “but a race has around 60 laps + a bunch of OTHER drivers….and it’s the later one that Lewis seems to have an issue with this season.”

          Nonsense, we’ve seen ALOT of races by Hamilton now, we all know full well hes not only quick but has great race craft. Watch his races even before he go to F1 and you can see it. The first third of 2011 he was actually having a normal season. It was only until around Monaco that it started to go pair-shaped, and things have came out recently, like the deaths of 2 of his friends and the breakup with his gfs that would atleast account for why his mind has not been on the game. Throw in a certain Brazilian in the mix and you’ve got a receipe for some bad results.

          “He also seems to have a problem with not having the fastest car on track”

          Well, it depends what you mean by problem? I think every driver in F1 atm except Vettel and Webber have a ‘problem’ with not having the fastest car.

          But in terms of Lewis’ ability, he dosnt have a problem dealing with a bad car at all. You only have to look at 2009 to see why. In the first half of the season when he had one of the worst cars out there, he was constantly out performing it. Then, as the team developed it better, he started winning with it.

          • Mr.Zing Zang said on 1st November 2011, 1:26

            He has two friends that died? Hmm see what I mean. Some people just don’t know the half of it. They just want to beat a guy up.

      • Thecollaroyboys (@thecollaroyboys) said on 31st October 2011, 23:09

        Apart from 07 and 08 which season hasn’t been diabolical for Hamilton?

      • pking008 (@pking008) said on 31st October 2011, 23:55

        I think Hamilton was wrongly advised not to have vetoed Buttons move to McLaren 2 years ago. Not because he should have been fearful of Buttons pace or any other thing but because Button is BRITISH just like himself. For crying out loud, the British media must have a protagonist and a villian. This was always gonna end in tears!

        Most great champions, like Alonso, Schumacher, Prost etc have almost always found a way to ensure that they are the top dog in a team and vetoed anyone that could take their “shine” away from them especially if that other driver was one that have just been crown a champion, as good as Button and above all from the same country.

        Seriously, how did Hamilton and his advisers really think this one was going to end? In tears I tell you. Did he even have any adviser during this time?

        One more thing. Any driver, let me rephrase, most drivers have the potential to be just as fast as the other driver. This might be controversial but i know its true. Felipe Massa has as much chance of beating Alonso if he is allowed to by Ferarri. Rubens had the potential to beat Schumacher during their Ferarri days if he was allowed to. Weber has the potential to beat Vettel if he was allowed to – we saw that last year until it was made clear he cant no more. The list goes on an on but the difference is that all the team leaders like Alonso, Vettel, Shumi found a way to either insert it in their contract or through other means make it clear to their employers that that is the way they roll.

        little things affect the outcome of any race and once you are on that bad run and I cant think of any driver that can constantly beat their team mate all through their own effort without luck or team interference one way or the other. add the massive media hoopla and demonizing around Hamilton and one can see why mistakes can be made and a need to want to over compensate leading to rash decisions because of always being put on the back-foot and have to fight and fight for everything while other have it easy.

        The failure of Hamilton or his advisers to have foreseen a pairing with Button can only end in tears is his own undoing and I feel he has himself to blame. Micheal Schumacher got paired with weaklings and he got 7 world titles out of it and all everyone worldwide remembers now is what a great champion Micheal is. I shed no tears for Hamilton for not thinking this through properly, thinking he can always rely on his raw speed. Raw speed can only get you so far.

        Sorry son, you can have all the raw speed in the world but I can still slow you down if I wanted to. Just ask a certain Mr W.

        • vho (@) said on 3rd November 2011, 4:43

          That’s a massive credit you’re giving to Button – considering how many others think he is still a number 2 rated driver. I think Lewis has had the chances of driving with a great driver (Alonso) and a not so great driver (Heikki). With a man of Lewis’ talents he should be wanting a team mate that can push him but not also try to jeopardise his race (like Alonso did). I think he has a level of respect for Button but doesn’t see him as a threat in terms of all out pace. I think Lewis can do well to learn some of the tactical nous from Button – it’s something that I believe Lewis is lacking to make him the complete driver.

          Jenson is a great driver in his own right – he has a WDC to his name. However, sometimes it frustrates me that he can’t seem to have the same pace as Lewis if the car is not to his liking, whereas Lewis will drive the wheels off a poor car. If you compare the two, it seems Lewis is more the sprinter and Jenson is more the long distance runner. The formula 1 today favours those who can maintain a consistent pace while managing their tyres (it also depends what types of tyres are allocated for each track too).

  3. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 31st October 2011, 18:24

    @sir, I’m also looking forward to seeing Hamilton back at his best, although I’m a little worried we might have to wait until F1 gets another tyre supplier. I know that good drivers are supposed to adapt, but equally there is no getting away from the fact that different circumstances favour different drivers.

    Also, I’m aware of the whatever-doesn’t-kill-you-make-you-stronger cliche, but I don’t see this season as turning out to be a blessing for the future. If he goes into the winter on this low, then he will go into the winter preparations with a complete lack of confidence. Also, his team, which earlier this year was still talking about signing him for life, must be considerably less impressed with him by now. All in all, a pretty depressing situation for Lewis and his fans.

  4. Mr draw said on 31st October 2011, 18:27

    Too bad the title is only about Hamilton’s bad race and not about Button’s good race.

    • Phil T (@phil-t) said on 31st October 2011, 18:45

      I am sick of hearing about him, sick of all the nonsense and hype that surrounds him, I wish McLaren just had another driver like Button that just turns up, keeps his head down, keeps his nose clean and gets on with it, without all the bs. Kimi for McLaren.

      • David BR (@david-br) said on 31st October 2011, 18:53

        @PhilT

        without all the bs

        Like winning McLaren a championship was bs, I guess.

        • Phil T (@phil-t) said on 31st October 2011, 19:12

          Its 2011, nearly 2012, that was 2008. I just want better for McLaren, and I dare say McLaren expected better than this from LH.

          • David BR (@david-br) said on 31st October 2011, 19:29

            So how come Button didn’t win in 2010 or 2011? You know the answer! The car hasn’t been good enough to match Red Bull. In 2009 it was even worse. Hamilton himself knows he’s had a very bad year (with some ups). But if he’s going to have one, now is a good time. Imagine if it had been with a title challenging car. (And yes he should have won in 2007 too!)

          • Franton said on 31st October 2011, 19:37

            Let’s see you defend a championship with what McLaren themselves have described as “the worst car we’ve ever fielded”, then try again the following year with something a little better and this year with a decidedly 2nd place car.

            Let’s face it, the Red Bull’s have something really good on that car.

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 31st October 2011, 20:03

            @Franton

            Let’s see you defend a championship with what McLaren themselves have described as “the worst car we’ve ever fielded”,

            then try again the following year with something a little better

            and this year with a decidedly 2nd place car.

            The 2009 car was very poor in the first half of the season, but the 2010 car was definitely a title challenger (the Ferrari too), and more than “a little better” than the ’09 car.

          • Franton said on 31st October 2011, 21:26

            @David A

            The 2009 car lost them the championship by virtue of it being very poor in the first half of the season. If you don’t do well then, you lose. It’s a historical fact. 1991 season stands out in my mind for it.

            The 2010 car had the trick F-Duct on it, which while making it pretty quick in a straight line … it was hampered in the corners by not having a successful blown diffusor until wait for it … half way through the season.

            Too little too late in both cases. McLaren really need to do something about their development process during the winter months.

      • Lets be real, you wouldn’t.

        We watch F1 not just for the car, but also for the characters/rivalries, the day we have a field of Jensons, is the day most people stop watching.

      • bearforce1 (@bearforce1) said on 1st November 2011, 9:03

        Like Alonso.

        Alonso has a crap car and he certainly signed on to ferrari expecting a competitive car. I have been really impressed with Alonso being positive (no whiney outbursts) and he still gives it everything, every race. He works his butt off. Lewis could learn a lot from this.

        As someone above said Lewis needs to learn from his mistakes. He has made so many mistakes this year that he should have learned heaps but hasn’t.

  5. I have pulled my F1 2008 Season Review DVD from the shelf and I will be watching that now instead of the races.

    The race itself was a bit of a riddle. Hamilton was very quick in qualifying, only a couple tenths off Vettel. Much faster than the Ferraris. But in the race, no pace.

    If McLaren had one guy who could qualify like Hamilton but race like Button, they would have been contending this season. Vettel is turning out to be that rare guy.

    Yes, Button should get at least a small laurel here. He did his new normal thing. Whereas last year, after typically qualifying so-so, he would just fade backwards. Now he fades forwards.

    I don’t want to indulge in medicine without license or do more of the Dr. Phil stuff, but if you look at even Whitmarsh’s comments trying to shield off the personal questions about Hamilton, Hamilton is clearly suffering deeply for some reason. It’s impossilble to say that it is affecting his work, per se. But he is miserable personally and in his job. If you look at the garage, his side is empty, literally and otherwise. Button’s side looks like a fabulous cocktail party. That has to matter. It’s really only Whitmarsh sticking up for him or even there to say a good word. It’s painful to watch. He needs this season to end and start again.

    • Xenon2 (@xenon2) said on 31st October 2011, 19:20

      I think Button did a lot of work on his race set-up in practice whereas Hamilton focused on qualifying.

    • Gold Leaf said on 1st November 2011, 1:29

      There is an obvious vehicle dynamics issue which needs to be examined, and it is clear that McLaren are having to push setup to a razor’s edge to try and compete with Red Bull.

      On Saturday Hamilton had a car that was fast enough to split the Red Bulls, Button found himself with a car that was unbalanced and slower than a Ferrari.

      24 hours later, under parc ferme, same tyres, fuel added, from lap 1, Hamilton has a car that is slower than a Ferrari, and Button has a car that is fast enough to split the Red Bulls.

      Although McLaren can sometimes get quite close to a Red Bull, it is also very obvious how far they are having to push the envelope of that car’s setup to try and get that close. They still have a lot of work to do to move consistent performance into Red Bull territory, and not just the edges.

    • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 1st November 2011, 5:59

      @davew

      The race itself was a bit of a riddle. Hamilton was very quick in qualifying, only a couple tenths off Vettel. Much faster than the Ferraris. But in the race, no pace.

      As was Schumacher against Rosberg. There is no riddle, it is driving style and perhaps setup and don’t forget, Massa smashed into Hamiltons car after (or Hamilton took yet another risky move) . But either way, we have seen on numerous occasions this year that quali pace does not necessarily reflect race pace.

      If you look at the garage, his side is empty, literally and otherwise. Button’s side looks like a fabulous cocktail party. That has to matter. It’s really only Whitmarsh sticking up for him or even there to say a good word.

      Well, I hadn’t noticed that but if it is the case then so be it. It would be understandable given the championship positions of the drivers. Button is under threat from Webber and Alonso.. so I would perfectly understand the extra support on his side of the garage for these remaining races. But I don’t think there is any mistreatment towards Hamilton. From a team point of view I would rather help the driver with most chance of retaining the highest position, instead of one that colides mover often than not. But I dont think that is the case anyway.

      • For your point 1, true.

        For point two, don’t mean to imply the team is not supporting him. Rather, it is only the team that is supporting him (and very well). My point is, he has no personal support on the road. This is not NASCAR where you go home every Sunday night to a hot dinner at home and go to sleep in your own bed. You live on the road. He would not be the first F1 driver, or F1 champion, to burn out early in his career.

        As far as who the team should support, at the end of the day, grooming a driver is like developing a car. It’s much better to try to make a fast driver reliable, than make a reliable driver fast. Button has had, what, 200+ grands prix. Button is not going to get any quicker. Hamilton may actually be getting quicker still. He has qualified on the front row 8 times this year with one pole. It’s an amazing stat considering the people driving a Newey have done 16 poles while he has to make do with a Lowe. When Hamilton is (again) more reliable, he can always be a threat for the title, even in a second-best car. The team know that.

  6. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 31st October 2011, 19:08

    All this is character builiding. I’m no fan of Hamilton, but I am a fan of a good competition. So, to me, it would be in the interest of the sport if Button keeps his form and and Hamilton regains his.

  7. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 31st October 2011, 19:15

    Hamilton’s attempt to pass Massa at the inside of turn five on lap 24, which ended in the pair making contact, was not his first such move. One lap earlier Massa had covered the inside line as Hamilton had gone to the outside looking to pass.

    Guess it’s weird then that Massa didn’t cover the inside line!

  8. John H (@john-h) said on 31st October 2011, 23:28

    Pretty much every lap of the race Button was lapping 0.5 seconds faster. Qualifying pace meant absolutely nothing. Was Hamilton learning how to drive to preserve tyres? Hope not.

    Credit to Jenson – he’s really dominating Hamilton – who would have thought it.

  9. Canuck said on 1st November 2011, 1:43

    Somewhat fairly obvious that a thinker will always dominate a scrambler …or drive by the seat of your pants …..crash the pack …and see what happens kin of driver !!!! Not quite sure Hami is really suited for MacLaren ……F1 just seems to be getting overly technical for Hami …..really too bad …he’s fun to watch ….just can’t bring the horse back to the stable in racing shape. Actually turning out to be a liability for the team …..hope they can harness his potential before its too late … Button is just that much more of a better value for MacLaren – he’s got the whole package.

  10. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 1st November 2011, 2:51

    Hamilton again had to do a fight back race,been his mistake or not he is struggling against his team-mate. The battle between Button & Webber was the only thing to cheer in this race.

  11. Eggry (@eggry) said on 1st November 2011, 4:01

    I don’t know Hamilton could back to his from next year. I think his pride is hurt heavily by Button.

  12. ed24f1 (@ed24f1) said on 1st November 2011, 4:44

    Hamilton could probably do with taking some time off, I don’t think going to Brazil for example will help his mentality, considering the reception he’ll get.

    He could also do with changing his mentality.

    • JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 1st November 2011, 10:52

      Ooh, can you imagine the outcry if Hamilton and Massa have yet another coming together in Brazil?

      It wouldn’t surprise me if we see another Monza-Hamilton in Brazil, solely for this reason.

      Doesn’t matter too much to me, I prefer Jenson; and I agree with some other comments that perhaps McLaren should look elsewhere. A certain Paul Di Resta, for example.

    • I dunno, judging from what i see on sim-racing forums and general internet blogs, alot of Brazilians like Hamilton and have really lost alot of respect for Massa since Germany 2010.

      “and I agree with some other comments that perhaps McLaren should look elsewhere.”

      Tripe.

  13. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 1st November 2011, 12:45

    Johnny Herbert, one of the three stewards this weekend, explains the reason for Massa’s penalty:

    Herbert explains Massa’s penalty: “He knew where Hamilton was”

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