Hamilton still in the running for title as Button has great race

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Brazil, Autódromo José Carlos Pace, Interlagosbr

The McLaren Mercedes F1 Team can look back to a relatively positive afternoon at Sao Paulo. Lewis Hamilton had a tough afternoon, but is still in the running for the drivers crown. Team mate Jenson Button had a scare last night as he faced armed robbers, but this didn't stop him from having a great race moving up from 11th to 5th position.

Lewis Hamilton MP4-25A-02
Started: 4th
Finished: 4th
Fastest lap: 1m13.851s 1st
Pitstops: Two: on laps 20 & 51 (Opt-Pri-Pri)
2010 points: 222 (4th)

“I pushed as hard as I could on every lap today, but this was a tough race for me. I actually feel quite lucky to have finished where I did.

“The car just didn’t feel like it did in practice. I was even struggling to overtake the backmarkers in a straight line – Fernando [Alonso] shot past me at the start, too – and it almost felt like my F-duct wasn’t working perfectly.

“I’m still in the hunt for the drivers’ championship, but I’m 24 points down, so I have nothing to lose now. In Abu Dhabi I’ll be doing everything I can to pull off the win I need, and hoping the other guys hit problems. As always, we won’t give up and we’ll keep on pushing. We’ve seen many times before that almost anything can happen in the last race of the season. It’ll take a miracle – but miracles can happen!”

Jenson Button MP4-25A-01
Started: 11th
Finished: 5th
Fastest lap: 1m13.932s (+0.081s) 3rd
Pitstops: Two: on laps 11 & 52 (Opt-Pri-Opt)
2010 points: 199 (5th)

“I had a great race today and had a lot of fun fighting my way through the field. We finally sorted the car out for the race, I had some pretty decent race pace, I made some great passing moves, and the team made a couple of perfect calls on strategy. From where I started, I couldn’t have done any better, so it feels good to have finished fifth.

“Lewis can still win the drivers’ world championship – but the top three drivers will have to fare badly for it to happen, so I guess it’ll be difficult for him. For me, I’m out of it now, so I’ll treat the final race much as I treated this one: I’ll just have fun and try to enjoy it.

“I won the drivers’ world championship in Brazil last year, and I lost it here this year. But, all in all, it’s been a pretty good season. It was a learning year, and good practice for next year: I firmly believe we can really build on this for the 2011 season. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is a really strong team – in fact I don’t think there’s any team stronger than us.”

Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “The 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix was a tense and absorbing race.

“Fighter that he is, Lewis tried his damnedest to pass Nico [Hulkenberg] in the early laps, and very nearly pulled it off on a number of occasions, but lost quite a lot of time to the front-runners in the process. As a result, in the end, he wasn’t able to improve on his starting position: fourth. Meanwhile, Jenson drove a typically canny race to move from 11th on the grid to fifth at the flag.

“Once the Safety Car had been deployed as a result of Vitantonio’s [Liuzzi] shunt, we opted to bring both our drivers in for new tyres – a more or less risk-free strategy given that the gap back to Michael [Schumacher] had been sufficiently large for Lewis and Jenson to be able to rejoin the field without losing their fourth and fifth positions respectively.

“The rationale behind that decision was that, had the front-runners’ older Primes begun to degrade in the final laps, our drivers would have been uniquely well placed to capitalise on that degradation. In the event there was very little such degradation, so our drivers derived no demonstrable benefit from their fresh rubber; but they suffered no disadvantage either, so it was well worth trying.

“More generally, Jenson lost the chance of retaining his drivers’ world championship this afternoon, but he’s been a superb team player all year and has made a great start to his Vodafone McLaren Mercedes career. He’s already looking forward to doing better still in 2011.

“Lewis, by contrast, is one of four drivers who are still in contention for this year’s drivers’ world championship – and, although he faces a very tough task in order to prevail, he’ll definitely be giving it everything he’s got in Abu Dhabi in his efforts to become world champion for the second time in his career. Good fortune will have to play its part, and nothing short of a win will suffice, but it’s by no means impossible.

“Last but not least, the battle for the constructors’ world championship came to a finish today – and the victors were Red Bull Racing. Although in some ways it goes against the grain for me to say so, because our ethos at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is that winning is all, it’s always refreshing when a new constructor’s name is etched onto that famous trophy.

“So, on behalf of all at Woking, I’d like to offer congratulations to all at Milton Keynes.”