McLaren leave Shanghai leading both championships

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27 makes a pit stop. Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, China, Sunday 15 April 2012.

Jenson Button finished second despite a pitstop bungle by the McLaren crew

Apr.15 (F1 Media) Jenson Button rued a missed opportunity but McLaren had a good day at the Chinese Grand Prix and leave Shanghai with the lead in both Championships.

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton on the podium

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton on the podium

Starting from fifth and seventh respectively, Button and Lewis Hamilton were both able to put the excellent long-run pace of the McLaren MP4-27 to good use as they took the lower steps on the podium. Hamilton’s third successive third place lifts him into the lead of the Drivers’ Championship on 45 points, two points clear of Button who has a second to add to his victory in Australia. Their combination of 88 points lifts the team well clear of Red Bull Racing who are now second in the Constructors’ Championship.

While Button pronounced himself pleased with his podium finish he was left to regret a fumbled final pitstop which destroyed any chance of him chasing down Nico Rosberg and challenging for the victory. Instead he came out in the middle of a battle for the lower places and had to thread his way through the crowd to regain his position.

“Our race pace was good, especially on the harder of the two tyres, I had some really good battles out there,” said Button in the FIA post-race press conference. “And then in my last stop, we had a problem with the rear of the car, so I was stuck there for nine or ten seconds, I think it was. It was a pity because when I exited the pits I had four cars in front of me; cars that I wouldn’t have been racing, and I would have had a nice clear track to hopefully hunt down Nico. It was a big gap but you’ve got to give it a go. But, all in all, a fun day. I really enjoyed today. It was a good race, some good overtaking out there and nice to eventually come away with some good points and second place.”

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren fans. Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, China, Sunday 15 April 2012.

Big local support for McLaren's two British drivers

Hamilton had the more difficult challenge. Having qualified second but started seventh after taking a five-place penalty for changing a suspect gearbox, he needed to make a good start and then rely on the pace of the McLaren to pull himself forward in each successive stint. “I’m very happy to have made it up to the podium,” he said. “I wanted to just go forwards and the team did a great job with the pit stops and with strategy. I think it was one of the best races so far this season, just because there was a lot of overtaking. It was incredible.”

Hamilton also paid tribute to Mercedes and his former team-mate Rosberg, the pair having driven together in junior categories. “We knew that all weekend they had been quick and if we let these people get away it would be hard to catch him, so fantastic for him, congratulations. Your first pole and your first win is an incredible feeling.”

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  • McLarenFan

    Fantastic race and the McLaren was awesome to watch. Shame about Janson’s pitstop was a shame.
    but the racing through the field was superb.
    Congratulations to McLaren and the works team.

  • aknit

    3rd time McLaren have messed up the pit stops in the last three races. But that seemed to be quite the order today, what with Schumacher and all.

  • McHare

    Hopefully the higher temperatures in Bahrain will suit the McLaren more than others.