by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

F1 Sepang - SUN - Race - Jenson Button 2nd, Lewis Hamilton 7th


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Apr 10, 2011

- MP4-26A-04
- Started: 4th
- Finished: 2nd
- Fastest Lap: 1m41.264s (+ 0.693s,4th)
- Pitstops: Three: laps 12, 24 and 37 (Op-Op-Op-Pr)
- 2011 points: 26 (2nd)

"This has been an extremely encouraging weekend for us. It’s very satisfying to come away with a good lot of world championship points – everyone in the team has done an amazing job and we should feel very proud of ourselves.

“Today’s race was all about looking after the tyres. On the way to the grid, I purposely took a lot of front wing out of the car, which was a mistake because I had massive understeer for the first stint, which also hurt the rear tyres. I just got the balance wrong.

“So at each pitstop, I dialled in more front wing and my pace kept getting better and better. At the end, the Prime tyre was really working for me. I knew Lewis had a problem in one of his pitstops and that I would be able to come out in front of him, but my pace was very good anyway. It was a great afternoon.

“In the closing laps, the team told me to take it easy on the tyres, but I chased down Sebastian [Vettel] as much as I could all the same – still, it wasn’t quite enough.

“We should all feel very encouraged that we have a good, strong package. I still don’t think we’re getting the best from it yet – but I hope we will in China, and that Lewis and I will both have great races.”

- MP4-26A-01
- Started: 2nd
- Finished: 7th
- Fastest Lap: 1m41.512s (+ 0.941s, 5th)
- Pitstops: Four: laps 12, 24, 37 and 52 (Op-Op-Pr-Pr-Pr)
- 2011 points: 22 (=3rd)

“Today was just one of those days. It’s never satisfying to start second and finish seventh, but that’s racing. We just have to take it on the chin and move on from it.

“At the start, I was on the outside going into the first corner, I got squeezed and it was difficult to defend without risking hitting Jenson or Nick [Heidfeld]. Then, during the race, my tyres kept dropping off; we pitted earlier than was optimal, and ran out of tyres at the end. I’d hoped to make the end of the race on a set of used Primes, but they didn’t last so we had to pit right at the end of the race.

“There were a lot of factors that made this afternoon very difficult: the delay at the pitstop, being chased by a couple of cars when I was trying to look after my tyres, and being hit from behind by Fernando [Alonso]. I think he got a bit too close, and, when he pulled out, he just clipped me with his wing and broke my car’s rear floor. I don’t how much downforce that lost me.

“Today wasn’t the greatest of days, but I’m going to China aiming to win; I’m only looking forwards.”

MARTIN WHITMARSH - Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“Jenson drove a truly excellent race today, pushing hard when it was appropriate to do so but also conserving his tyres when necessary, and the result was a very well deserved second place.

“Lewis had a difficult afternoon, his frustrations beginning at the very first corner of the very first lap, when Nick unexpectedly nipped past him from way back in sixth place on the starting grid. After that, he [Lewis] tried his utmost to reclaim the place, nearly doing so on a number of occasions, but inevitably his tyre conservation was compromised in the process.

“But that’s racing – and, for Lewis, I guess it was just one of those days. For example, we performed a total of seven pitstops today, six of them in under four seconds but one in around six seconds, and as luck would have it that slower one was one of Lewis’s pitstops. Equally, we weren’t able to give him a second stint on Option tyres today because they’d been damaged in qualifying yesterday.

“Towards the end of the race Lewis was struggling on Prime tyres – and, although from a conventional point of view a further pitstop looked like an unattractive option, it was what he was calling for and in truth it was probably therefore the safest thing to do. Tyre drop-off was a problem for everyone today, and ultimately you have to listen to your driver in such situations.

“Having said all that, 22 world championship points is a useful haul, and it gives us something to build on when we arrive in Shanghai in a few days’ time. The team has done a fantastic job over the past few weeks – well done again, guys – and, if we can maintain that momentum from here on in, then we can definitely take the fight to Red Bull next weekend.

“Last but not least, I want to pay tribute to Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines, whose V8 engine and KERS Hybrid performed superbly all weekend, and also to ExxonMobil, whose fuel and Mobil 1 lubricant were significant factors in ensuring excellent engine cooling and reliability in the very hot and humid conditions we always face here in Sepang.”

* Official photos and report courtesy of VODAFONE MCLAREN MERCEDES *

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