Good race pace doesn't bring a lot for McLaren

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Great Britain, Silverstone Circuitgb

Both McLaren drivers showed strong race pace as of the beginning of the race after a troubled qualifying session. Unfortunately, a problematic pitstop forced Jenson Button to retire from 4th position. Lewis Hamilton eventually finished 4th after running 2nd for part of the GP.

Lewis Hamilton, MP4-26A-03:
Started: 10th
Finished: 4th
Fastest lap: 1m36.180s (+1.272s, 5th)
Pitstops: Three: laps 12, 24 and 37 (Int-Op-Op-Op)
2011 points: 109 (4th)

“Before the end, I had to start saving fuel: you have to lift and coast, which means the brake temperatures drop. So I had no brakes, and that’s why I kept locking up. That allowed Mark [Webber] to slip ahead of me and meant I was defending from Felipe [Massa] in the closing laps.

“On the final lap, the team gave me the order to push as hard as I could, but Felipe had already closed the gap by that point, so it was difficult to defend. That last lap was as close as it’s ever going to get! In the final corner I stayed on the inside and braked as hard as I could. Fortunately, we both got around the corner in one piece and I just pipped him at the finish.

“The support I had when I crossed the line was as if I’d won the race – so I want to say a huge thank-you to everyone. In fact, the fans have been amazing all weekend: I’ve never seen so many people at Silverstone, and I could feel them all spurring me on.

“I think this was one of the best British Grands Prix of all time, and I’m already looking forward to coming back again next year!”

Jenson Button, MP4-26A-04:
Started: 5th
Finished: Ret – 39 laps, unsecured right-front wheel
Fastest lap: 1m36.982s (+2.074 s, 10th)
Pitstops: Three: laps 11, 26 and 39 (Int-Op-Op-Op)
2011 points: 109 (5th)

“So much could have happened in my race today.

“Before my final stop I’d had great pace, and I’d caught Lewis, Sebastian [Vettel] and Mark. When they peeled off into the pits, I stayed out for one more lap and I think I would have come out alongside, or even ahead of, Mark after the stop.

“But, as I turned out of the pitlane, my right-front wheel came off and I was forced to stop immediately. The guy on the front-right lost the wheelnut and turned to take another; as he turned, I think his hand moved and the guy on the front jack felt that that was the trigger to lower the car. Then the lollipop lifted. Hopefully, we won’t have that sort of issue again.

“It’s disappointing – especially in front of the home crowd – because I was really enjoying the race. I’d had good pace all afternoon and really enjoyed a couple of good battles – particularly passing Felipe on the inside into Vale.

“I think we gave the fans something to cheer, although it was a shame we couldn’t have scored more world championship points: anyone who had pace at the end of the race had a good chance, and I think there was definitely a podium to be had here today.”

Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes:

“Our race pace was good today – but, even so, it was a difficult afternoon for us and ultimately therefore a disappointing result for the team and for all British race fans.

“Jenson drove an excellent race – combative yet disciplined – and I think he could well have bagged a podium finish had it not been for the pitstop mix-up that prematurely ended his race.

“Our pitcrew has done a fantastic job all year – but on this occasion they released Jenson before his right-front wheel had been properly attached. It was a case of human error in the heat of the moment – but, as I say, and as I want to stress the point, our pitcrew has completed dozens of faultless pitstops under extreme pressure this season and today’s error was therefore totally atypical.

“Lewis, too, delivered a very strong performance. We’d expected him to encounter more traffic in the first part of the race than he actually did – and, as a result, he used more fuel early on than we’d anticipated he would. That being the case, we had to ask him to drive with fuel conservation in mind in the final laps – which meant that he was forced to slow his pace and thereby allow Mark to pass and let Felipe catch up.

“The last lap of the race must have made for wonderful viewing for trackside spectators and TV audiences alike – and the fact that Lewis was able to cling on to fourth place ahead of Felipe, and score 12 valuable world championship points as a result, is I think a testament to his indefatigable competitiveness.

“The Santander British Grand Prix was a superb event – the grandstands were jam-packed and I’m glad to say that a large proportion of the fans who filled them were wearing rocket-red Vodafone McLaren Mercedes caps – but now we must turn our attention to another historic motorsport venue, the Nürburgring, which will this year host the German Grand Prix, the home race of our engine partner Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines.

“As ever, Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines has done a fantastic job this year – and, together, we intend to be fully competitive in Germany in two weeks’ time.”