McLaren end up biggest losers on soggy Sunday in Sepang

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27 and Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27 battle. Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday 25 March 2012.

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button led early on but could only manage one car in the points at Sepang

Mar.25 (Reuters) McLaren suffered a soggy Sunday at the Malaysian Grand Prix and will look back at the race with a tinge of regret after Lewis Hamilton’s third place was all they could muster from a perfect qualification result.

(L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari celebrate on the podium. Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday 25 March 2012.

Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso frolic on the podium

In glorious sunshine on Saturday, Hamilton and team mate Jenson Button locked down the front row but 24 hours later, a torrential downpour and sloppy pit stops compromised Hamilton’s race, while Button ruined his chances with a messy collision.

Hamilton salvaged third place behind inspired drives from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Sauber’s Sergio Perez but Button never recovered from losing parts of his front wing early on and crossed the line in 14th place.

“A disappointing day for us obviously but in terms of damage limitation it could have been a lot worse,” team boss Martin Whitmarsh told reporters following a race that was halted for 51 minutes when conditions became too dangerous.

“A lot of the people we consider to be the real championship contenders probably didn’t get as many points as they’d like, and obviously Jenson [didn't].

“But it was a bad day in the office for him. I think in those conditions, he’ll be hard on himself.

Jenson Button

Too many pitstops for Jenson Button in Malaysia

“He shouldn’t have lost the wing and thereafter we tried a variety of different things but you get pace in free air and if you get behind someone you lose temperature in your tyres and it became very difficult to do anything with it.”

Hamilton was still leading when the race was red flagged after eight laps but he lost track position to Alonso after the resumption when the pair pitted together and the Briton was held up by traffic.

“We stopped Lewis at the right point but I think Ferrari double shuffled (had Alonso and Felipe Massa pitting together) and that meant we had to hold it and Alonso was in front,” Whitmarsh added.

“Perez was the man with speed today. It was a big, big day for him and Sauber but it wasn’t too bad. We come away with second and third in the drivers’ championship, we’re leading the constructors’.

“It’s a long season ahead of us and it could be a lot worse.”

Hamilton was equally as positive over the points gained rather than the ones lost, a stark contrast to a week ago when he also finished third in Australia from pole and his disappointment was all too evident.

Lewis Hamilton behind the safety car

Lewis Hamilton behind the safety car

“I can’t really complain. I’m on the podium for second week in a row so I’m pretty happy,” he said. “I feel pretty fortunate that I was able to stay out of trouble with the conditions changing constantly. I think we did a great job.”

Button, normally excellent in wet weather, blamed himself for running into the back of Narain Karthikeyan’s HRT as he tried to pass the Indian following a change of tyres.

“I was struggling to keep the tyres up to temperature and it was totally my fault. I hit the brakes, locked the rears and I couldn’t slow the car down. I tried to get round the corner but I couldn’t do anything but hit him really,” Button admitted.

“It was already a tough afternoon and then it just spiralled out of control. Everything that could have gone wrong really did. All I can do is laugh really, it was so bad today.”

Subbed by AJN.
  • aknit

    The lack of pace in the race really needs to be looked at. Could it have been the engines as has been suggested?

    Yes, the pit stops were very, very tardy, but there was still some time to make it up on track.

  • dabs

    Withmarsh is a joke . For a team manager he should not get involved in petty crap about perez .They could have had a win if they did not mess up hamiltons first pit stop . he would have come out in front of both alonso amd perez . he has lewis biteing his tounge to keep from saying anything bad . any way he will get pole again . they should be telling lewis how sorry he is , instead of praising button.

  • dabs

    it seems like button is the maclaren boy now .even vettle surprised me with his commets , thats the sign of a poor looser . he is the one who cut over too quickly and damaged his own tire . he should have gotten the drive through and naren

  • McLaren fan

    Jenson and Lewis drove there hearts out, they have not been able to get the read on the rubber and the race was unreal, they should look towards China and the new bits coming to make the car unbeatable we hope.
    Great race unlike America what no rain!

  • Edge

    Whitmarsh is a sad excuse for a team manager. All he talks about is Button, Hamiton got hardly a mention yet again. its becoming more apparent that Whitmarsh favours Button over Hamilton, quite a few forum discussions going on about this treatment and arguements all over twitter about Whitmarsh.

    Ron needs to have a word, as aHamiton and McLaren fan im pretty disgusted with Whitmarsh as a team leader

  • Firoze Munzeer

    I agree with some of the guys. Whitmarsh is not being fair. Two pit stops messed up. Not a word about it from Whitmarsh. The guy at the back took ages to get his trolley under Lewis’s car costing valuable seconds. How come Button’s car has more pace than that of Lewis’. It was the same in Australia.

  • me262

    apparently Lewis missed is marks with that botched pit stop so easy does it

  • aknit

    I just think that the time was right, before anyone else (even Toro Rosso) had thought about putting on the slicks, for Hamilton to do so. Why they waited so long, especially after Ferrari pitted both their drivers, is beyond me.

    As for why Button pitted first when Hamilton had the first call, I don’t know either. But I’m not too worried about that if it was Hamilton’s call to stay out one lap longer on the Intermediates.

    They really messed up the pit stop, and nothing has been said about that, as others have already mentioned here. As if Hamilton doesn’t have enough pressure as it is dealing with his on-form teammate, now he has to wonder whether Whitmarsh has their backs fairly 50/50.

    Anyway, as is always the case with F1, it would be unwise to make any conclusions about anything now. The best time to do so will be at at Sao Paulo, in November.

  • A person

    @ me 262

    So because Hamilton stopped maybe a foot farther than usual, that means the rear jack man suddenly forgets how to use his jack and has to try three or four times before he actually does it properly?

    All he had to do was recognise that Hamilton was a foot further than usual and put his jack a foot further than usual.

    Instead he was fumbling around like a virgin boy trying to remove a fat girls bra for about 3 seconds.