McLaren: Hamilton salvages fourth after battling with Button

2011 Turkish GP team review

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Lewis Hamilton recovered to fourth after a lengthy battle with Jenson Button and a slow pit stop.

Lewis HamiltonJenson Button
Qualifying position46
Qualifying time comparison (Q3)1’25.595 (-0.387)1’25.982
Race position46
Pit stops43

McLaren drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):

Lewis Hamilton98.85295.20195.11794.85894.55494.78595.17595.61996.351109.80693.96293.23194.49393.03693.83293.78193.86294.07394.86595.871109.0293.58193.92792.84892.70992.82992.76292.57292.67192.52192.06592.22892.34592.897123.21791.58691.74691.22991.3891.8591.2491.20390.78390.90690.9191.053107.33190.10890.13990.41791.00190.77790.66490.78690.57590.43890.8691.292
Jenson Button98.35195.21995.13394.9694.44395.18395.41594.87295.28394.78894.92695.4296.239110.87594.294.19694.01393.72893.97594.25795.16193.90194.6793.71793.90493.404110.60792.92892.51893.88793.30193.47194.27893.25592.29192.52392.96892.86492.729108.26392.33292.45491.71591.52491.80391.36191.16791.55791.7891.81991.69992.08291.76592.85293.28693.30693.6594.721
Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, McLaren, Istanbul, 2011
Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, McLaren, Istanbul, 2011

Lewis Hamilton

McLaren did very little running in the wet session on Friday, believing the rain was going to stay and they would benefit from saving wet weather tyres. That turned out not to be the case.

Hamilton could only manage fourth on the grid. He went out for a second run in Q3 but he couldn’t gain any places, although he did improve his time.

He hounded the slow-starting Mark Webber and tried to go around the outside of the Red Bull at turn four as he had done to Vettel 12 months previously. But he found himself sliding to the edge of the road and Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button overtook him.

Hamilton spent his first stint passing and getting re-passed by his team mate. Shortly after he had seemingly passed Button for good, his tyres went off and Button re-passed, followed shortly by Felipe Massa.

Martin Whitmarsh said of the battle between the two: “We’ve traditionally never sought to prevent our drivers from racing each other ?ǣ and they certainly did that today.

“It was good to see: they get on extremely well off the track, as I think everyone knows, but on the track they?re as keen to beat each other as they are to beat any other driver, and that?s the way it should be.”

Hamilton made for the pits, following Massa, who he leap-frogged thanks to a better stop. Massa was close on his tail coming out of the pits but an opportunistic pass on Pastor Maldonado allowed Hamilton to briefly delay Massa’s advances.

His slow third pit stop, caused by a pair of cross-threaded wheel nuts, cost him in the region of 14 seconds. It could have been even more costly had lollipop man Pete Vale not ensured he didn’t get off his marks too quickly when he was finally released.

Fortunately for Hamilton, he was able to get out of the pits just in front of a tightly-knit pack of cars including Rubens Barrichello, Nico Rosberg, Vitaly Petrov, Michael Schumacher, Adrian Sutil and Felipe Massa.

Although he dropped behind Button following his final pit stop he was easily able to pass his team mate for fourth place. But he was rather dismayed, when he asked his team what the gap to third place was, to be told it was half a minute.

Lewis Hamilton 2011 form guide

Jenson Button

Button tried to do the race on three stops, one fewer than his team mate, and found himself in the classic dilemma of race strategy in 2011.

Comparing his and Hamilton’s lap times (above) it’s clear Hamilton usually came into the pits once his tyres were going off. That’s not the case for Button – which indicates the team pitted him earlier for strategic reasons.

The race chart published yesterday supports the view that they were trying to make sure he did not end up stuck in traffic when he came out of the pits.

But these earlier pit stops meant his final stint had to be longer – and that meant he was passed by Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, finishing sixth.

Afterwards he said: “I think most people probably started the race aiming for a three-stopper, but because many of them damaged their tyres in the first stint, they changed their approach.

“We didn?t, and I was able to put a couple of laps on everyone and my tyres still felt pretty good ?ǣ but I felt the next two stops were earlier than the tyres could have done, which is disappointing.

“We didn?t leave the stops late enough ?ǣ the tyres were still good at the end of every stop, so we should have stayed out longer because it just made the last stint extremely difficult.”

Of course, had Button’s lap times in his second and third stints been quicker (and comparing his lap times to others shows they might have been), he would have been better off at the end. But he would not necessarily have known he needed to push harder at the time.

But while doing fewer stops did not work out for Button in Istanbul, it may be a different story when Pirelli’s harder development tyres are introduced.

Jenson Button 2011 form guide

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    37 comments on “McLaren: Hamilton salvages fourth after battling with Button”

    1. The battle between the McLaren boys was one of the highlights of the race. It was quite epic and thoroughly enjoyable to watch. Great driving from them both.

      It’s a shame the rest of the race didn’t quite come together for them.

      Barcelona should be interesting for McLaren, Ferrari appear to have caught them but I hear upgrades are on their way.

      1. Yeah totally agree with everything you said.

        One thing I’m perplexed about though. I read 5/6 websites during and after a GP weekend, and (apart from this site) they’re all going mad about how Ferrari and mercedes have caught mclaren and are closing on red bull. No-one seems to mention the fact that Ferrari had a new front wing, rear wing, and floor. Mercedes had a similar update, just neither team was overly confident going into the weekend.
        Mclaren have always planned their major update for Barcelona so I still see them 3/4tenths ahead of Ferrari and mercedes.
        Red bull also brought a new floor and exhaust and rear wing this week. All of which were ruined in the FP1 crash. Again this alters the actual perception of mercedes and Ferrari catching up…
        They just brought their upgrades a week earlier than everyone else.

        Barcelona will truly show us what’s going on

    2. martin bell
      9th May 2011, 16:30

      Everything you need to know about this years regs was contained in JB’s post race comment about how he wasn’t really racing when Rosberg passed him. The inevitability of that pass had me reclining away from the edge of my seat. I’m loving the races this year, but defensive driving has become an obsolete skill. There is much that is good in this years F1, but the races may be becoming exciting but unfulfilling, like eating sherbet rather than a really good lunch.

      1. Your final analogy is COTD material there!!! haha

      2. Cluffy_Wedge
        9th May 2011, 16:53

        There definitely is defensive driving, like Massa/Button in Melbourne, Schumacher/Alonso in Shanghai, etc. it’s just that what you’re explaining isn’t direct competition, just overlap of drivers on different strategies very late in the race. No different to when there was refuelling, except then they just jumped each other in the pits all the time trying to get some clear air instead of passing at 180mph on track.

        1. Agreed. Add to that Massa and Rosberg’s fight yesterday too.

      3. How much of the “defensive driving” of the past was down to the driver, and how much was down to the aero, however? Why does a driver get plaudits for “keeping the other guy behind”, at a time when it was technically virtually impossible to pass people?

        What makes a KERS-, DRS- or “off tyres”-assisted pass “unfulfilling”, but a “huge turbulance wall”-assisted defence satisfying?

        I really don’t get where all the complaints about DRS are coming from, I knew at the start of the year people would do this, and I’m honestly disappointed I was right.

        F1 created a problem that meant drivers couldn’t pass each other, regardless of the difference in tyres, fuel, setup, skill, or car design. Fans cried out for a solution. What could they do to solve it? Make the cars slower. No! goes the crowd. Make fewer wings? No! Make the regs so tight it’s a spec series? No!

        People wanted less aero, but only when someone was coming up to pass someone else. That’s just not feasible, so they came up with an equaliser – a trick. And they said “look this will need to be fiddled with as we go along but it seems to do what we want.”

        I can live with that. It’s no more artificial than all the other artificial restrictions on engine size, tyre size, materials, weight distribution, power output, electronics, communications, suspension geometry, ride heights, wing angles, chassis length….

        1. I can appreciate the form of emphasis, but it was never “technically virtually impossible” to pass in Formula 1. There are enough terrific, conseqential passes in the past several years to make that plain.

          In any event, cars roaring past each other as if one was chained to the ground is not exciting. Webber roaring past Alonso for 2nd was such an anticlimax it was sad. In the past, that only happened if a driver lost a gear or broke an exhaust. The only drama there is how Webber might avoid slamming in to the back of the Ferrari. Turkey was a terrible over-extension of the DRS zone, but the overstepping here exposed the true character of the device.

          The assumption that turbulence is an unfair unequal advantage just doesn’t add up to me. Defenders have circumstantial advantages in all forms of sport. Should a soccer team that is ahead in a game be forced to bench one player so we can have a better show? Turbulence is part of the sport, just like the fact that the inside line is dirty and the outside has marbles.

          In any event, it qualifies as artifice, precisely because, unlike all those other technical limitations, it is not the same for everyone. Worse, it aims to create passing in a way that puts zero premium on skill.

          1. Adrian Morse
            10th May 2011, 1:21

            It’s utter rubbish that Webber just sailed past Alonso. The Ferrari seemed to have much better top speed, and Webber only managed to get side-by-side with Alonso. The following three-corner battle was quite thrilling, although for Alonso fans the outcome was perhaps disappointing.

          2. Dave, the FIA got it wrong, the DRS (FFW) was in the wrong place, end of.

            Where you complaining when it led to a spectacular race in Singapore?

            overstepping here exposed the true character of the device.

            It makes it easier to pass… We ALL know this. Get off your high horse, every driver has the ability to use it. If you are going to get angry about one driver having advantage over another, get angry that Ferrari has well, well over 5 times the budget of HRT.

      4. Everything you need to know about this years regs was contained in JB’s post race comment about how he wasn’t really racing when Rosberg passed him.

        I wouldn’t go as far as saying that everyone has the same opinion on this year’s racing, however, I would say that everything you need to know about Jenson’s racing philosophy is contained in this interview –

        Jenson as usual, blames the team strtegy when things go wrong, as opposed to soaking in all the credit when things go right. How people think Jenson is a ‘master strategist’ is beyond me. The guy clearly just takes a different strategy because he is unable to compete with others in the exact same conditions.

        Then …Jenson pretty much admits that it doesn’t matter who he is racing. His entire focus is on maintaining the tyres and finding a balance between the right amount of slow and tyre management.

        Honestly, I cannot wait for this boring and unexciting driver to get out of Mclaren. There are a whole load or real racers who deserve that seat more than Jenson. In my opinion, Jenson will always be a glorified number 2 driver with a bunch of ready excuses.

    3. I thought with team orders the McLaren boys could gain a DRS advantage making a sychronised pass on each other every lap to catch alonso/webber. Much like a game of leap frog to gain a second a lap.

      1. It’s not a bad idea, I think they should test in a practice session in Spain. Obviously the disadvantages are that they’d have to run slow enough to keep up with each other and the chance of them crashing into each other would increase.

        1. Pirelli are introducing some longer lasting hard tyres for the Spanish GP. These tyres may have a more driver influenced life span than the softer tyre previously used.

      2. Good thinking, but I think it wouldn’t have worked as they would have had to do a whole lap under the aerodynamic influence of the car ahead and they didn’t have the pace.

      3. I was also thinking they could save their tires instead of racing each other so early on.

      4. A good idea in principal but I don’t know if the short term advantage of DRS would outweigh the rest of the lap…like Fixy said.

    4. was such a shame Hamilton made an error at the start. would ahve been great to see him battle with alonso and webber. maybe even vettel..?

      I think McLaren WILL catch Red Bull with car performance eventually, they just need to make sure they can stay as close as they can to them in the championship untill then :)

    5. Why Jenson was so slow at the start(1st stint)? I guess because he was nursing his tyres. I don’t understand why Jenson loves nursing tyres so much. It would make sense if he was fast doing so but he’s nursing by going slow, he doesn’t gain nothing with it. Someone should tell him they don’t give point for nursing.

      1. Rumor has it McLaren has been using an experimental nipple component on Jenson’s car, which goes some way towards explaining his propensity for nursing his tires…


    6. Why Button still believes in the hype about his own ability in tyre conservation this season is beyond me. Those Pirellis do not allow this, they wear in the same rate to everyone.

      He needs to do 4 stints in sprint pace and forget about tyre conservation.

      Lewis paid the price for his mistake in the first laps but only because he looks very cautions with Webber. Considering how Webber damaged his season last year, I would be cautions too.

      Even with Button holding him and with that disastrous pit stop, he could do a good damage limitation and managed a 4th.

      Good job, but I bet not very pleasant when you have a car to fight for the second place…

      1. Yeah I think lewis was almost too cautious with Mark through the first corner after the start…Usually he just barges around the outside if his nose is ahead..

        i think that may have contributed to his move later on the next corner…he knew he probably had missed a chance earlier.

    7. Shame it did not work out for Jenson in the end. Had he pushed a bit more on those second and third stints he would have had a better chance to pit later and keep at least Rosberg behind.

    8. I was shocked to see Hamilton get to 4th, much less get by Button. From the time I say him burning up tires to get by Button, and then stop early, I thought, this is going to be Malaysia again for him, complete with botched pitstop.

      All in all, you have to say it was a good recovery from the first stint. He came in the pits behind Massa, driving the car that finished third, and later left Massa in the dust, not to mention his teammate.

      And on the strategic point, terrible show by McLaren. First, you have to question the team’s choice at stint one. You had a quicker guy behind a teammate who was going to go long on used softs, so he was going to be even slower to eke out distance on those tires. They should have brought in Button and gone to “Plan B” for him. He was obviously going like molasses on Plan A and holding up Hamilton massively—and why would it have been otherwise as Hamilton was .5s faster on their respective tires the day before. So what was the point of staying out at that point for Button? The better option then was to switch up and see what kind of pace fesh softs had to run down the lead pack. Then the next time, because things are going so well, they bring him in when the tires are still pre-cliff and dump him in traffic. Button complained that they brought him in early but he is the only one who knows what the tires are doing so he can listen to tiny violins.

      It seems like the team was betting on Button’s apocryphal tire management skills and lost the whole pot.

      Let’s say, second race in a row where Button didn’t get the most out of the car but succeeded in severely delaying Hamilton’s much more promising progress. McLaren drivers have been racing each other since the Restoration, but we know that when circumstances require, they can and do work together.

      1. McLaren’s strategy calls this year have been highly questionable. Lewis has questioned and prodded them to go a different route with strategy, but Whitmarsh/Phrew are as hardheaded as donkeys and as arrogant as princes…and it usually comes to bear that their drivers have it right anyway.

        I do believe they do Lewis a disservice sometimes when he is clearly faster than jenson,…i.e japan 2010(when he could have challenged for podium before his problem)

        1. prew has little/nothing to do with strategy

      2. To be honest I, who hates team orders, questioned why McLaren didn’t do the obvious in that first stint.

        1. Adrian Morse
          10th May 2011, 3:05

          They didn’t do the obvious because both drivers believe they have a shot at the championship and will not move over for a rival. Also, last year Button said he would quit the day he received team orders.

          1. Button was deluding himself if he though he would finish ahead of Hamilton yesterday.

            At the moment he needs to help anyone he can take points off of Vettel, he’s not going to win the championship by trying to take 4th places off of his team-mate.

      3. “Button complained that they brought him in early but he is the only one who knows what the tires are doing so he can listen to tiny violins.”

        He is the only one who knows what the tyres are doing. But is he also the one who knows what every other car on the track is doing too? No, that would be the team.

        A driver’s strategy is not just dictated by the condition of his tyres, it is also highly affected by the circumstances of what other drivers are doing. The team are the only people who have all the information at hand to judge strategy on the fly. So, if the pit wall calls a driver in for a stop, the chances are it’s because they’ve calculated that it’s the best time to do so.

        You win as a team and you lose as a team and I think you’ll find that Jensons comments after the race reflect that.

        We didn’t leave the tyres long enough,” Button suggested. “The tyres were still good at the end of every stint, but we came in.

        We should’ve stayed out for longer because it made the last stint just impossible, just too many laps.”

        He didn’t blame anyone, but instead states that the decision taken by both himself and the team was the wrong one.

        This Button bashing is really starting to become tiresome.

        1. Maybe you should hear the post race interview for Australia 2010. Where he said “I decided to come into the pits for an early pit stop.”
          and similarly in China “I thought it was the right decision..”

          But obviously “we” or “the team” comes in only when the strategy is wrong. I’m honestly sick of Jenson’s excuses for everything. The 2009 title put pressure on him to drive like a champ from time to time, which is something he is clearly not capable of doing. Hence the excuses for everything..

    9. If Jenson believes that he will beat Vettel in RB7, by nursing his tires……then he will always be fighting for 4th or 5th place.

      1. If it wasn’t for Lewis bad pitstop, he wouldn’t ve needed to pass Jenson after his last pitstop. It shows how far behind jenson was with his 3 pitstop strategy. Jenson is only able to make his tyres last 2 or 3 lap than the others by going slower than them. It would be good if he was able to go fast and make them last then his rivals but it’s not the case! That’s why i don’t understand why he thinks it’s a good think to do.

    10. Great racing from McLaren this weekend. Seeing Hamilton and Button go toe to toe was reminiscent of Turkey last year. Really enjoyed it.

      And as Keith said, the strategy didn’t work as well as expected but being able to control that strategy and with the possibility of a new compound that could prove very beneficial in the future.

    11. It was a tough & hard day for Hamilton,the battle between the two were great.I don’t know the reason for Button’s 3 stop may be they thought with his soft driving he could gain some places.One thing so far we have learn that to score good points you got to make same amount of tyre changes as others are doing.

    12. Well where are all those who said this years tyres will be an advantage for Button over Hamilton. In four race, Hamilton has finished ahead of Button 3 times. What excuses do they have now for Button not being able to blow Hamilton away with his tyre conservation thing.

      Next thing they will claim pathetically, that Button is teaching Hamilton how to conserve his tyres. I find such comments especially condescending when its coming from the likes of Brundle and Coulthard, perennial under achievers, and a few members of the BBC commentary team. No driver has the time or the ability to teach a competitor how to conserve tyres. A vey pathetic argument indeed.

      Tyre conservation is an art only when you can achieve it while getting good results, else you can get better tyre conservation by leaving your car parked in the garage.

    13. I strongly believe the better driver will come on top by the season end compare to his team mate whatever the rules. 1 pitstop like last year or 4 pitstops.
      Button can’t match Hamilton’s pace and is proven many times now(especially in qualifying).
      So he tries to beat Hamilton by choosing a different strategy mostly. But 3 stop strategy wasn’t bad, Buemi proved that by beating his 4 stopping teammate and almost beating one Renault. So Button getting beaten by Hamilton despite him losing like 15 seconds in the pitstop is below average performance from him.

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