2 JUNE 13 2012 motorsport-news.co.uk
IN THIS ISSUE
THE VOICE OF BRITISH MOTORSPORT ISSUE JA2825
“We’re not losing any sleep over this”
Red Bull heads dismiss the RB8’s technical hiccups
O’NEILL SECURES SHOCK BTCC RETURN
Fan favourite rides again... in a Toyota Avensis
PRODRIVE BOSS CALLS FOR CALM AMID WRC EVENT CRISIS
Richards says the WRC’s future must be secured
24 HOURS, ONLY ONE MISSION
Allan McNish headlines our full Le Mans guide
Canadian Grand Prix report
Historic race and rally news
BTCC report:Oulton Park
British F3/GT report:Rockingham 24 Dukeries Rally report 26 Le Mans preview:McNish charged 28 Le Mans preview:Jarvis’s hope 30 Le Mans preview:Team Brundle 31 Le Mans preview:Essentials 32 Le Mans preview:Corvette’s Brits 34 Racing reports 35 Rally reports 38 SUBSCRIBETOMOTORSPORTNEWS 40 Karting round-up 41 Sporting Scene round-up 42 Letters/Comment/What’s On 44 Wanted:A bit of luck.Apply:J Button.
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Brit feels surge of confidence as first
ByRob Ladbrook Lewis Hamilton has rated his sensational drive to victory in the Canadian Grand Prix as one of the finest performances of his Formula One career, but he still believes consistency will be the key to this year’s championship. Hamilton soared to his first victory of the season by notching up his third victory around the Montréal street circuit. The McLaren star used the greater grip and speed of his two-stop strategy to overhaul one-stopping rivals Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso in the closing stages.
The result has also catapulted Hamilton into the championship lead, with a two-point advantage over Ferrari racer Alonso. Hamilton, who took his first grand prix victory in Canada five years ago this week, said: “It’s still sinking in. It’s been five years since I took my first F1win here and this one feels just as good.
“I will never take winning for granted and this feels like one of the best races I’ve had for a very long time. I’m massively proud of the team for getting us back to the top step of the podium but it’s unbelievable how close this season is. We’ve got awin and 25 points yet I’m only two clear in the championship. I think it will stay this close all year so winning the title will be all about consistency.”
McLaren’s tactical win Hamilton’s charge to the front of the field brought the importance of race strategy in Canada into sharp focus. McLaren opted to run Hamilton on a two-stop strategy from the start, avoiding the temptation to try and get through the race on a single stop. The smooth nature of the Montréal track meant the Pirelli tyres would theoretically last for most of the race, leading to a variety of different strategies among the frontrunners.
Red Bull eclipsed the field during qualifying but struggled to make its tyres last during the race. Vettel led the opening stages before falling back into the clutches of Hamilton and Alonso before the first pit cycle. Hamilton rejoined seven seconds in arrears of the leading pair after his second stop, but carved through the deficit to breeze into the lead with six laps to spare.
Both Vettel and Alonso attempted to complete the race on a single stop but Vettel aborted his attempt with just a handful of laps left after struggling for grip and falling
Another 16th place for Button has dropped him to eighth in the points behind the charging Hamilton. Alonso continued but fell to fifth place in the closing laps.
“I had to bemore on the limit in this race than before this year because I knew I had to close the gap,” said Hamilton. “I had a feeling Fernando would one-stop so I knew I had to pass him andmake the gap. It was one of the best stints I’ve ever driven because I could catch him at over a second per lap. The greatest thing here is that you can actually overtake. It’s like a go-kart track.
“We’re all still trying to understand these tyres. Sometimes we overheat them and sometimes we don’t get enough heat into them. The good thing is we didn’t come here with any upgrades whereas Red Bull and Ferrari have upgraded consistently. Generally they can look after their tyres better than us andmaybe that was the case again today because I couldn’t have run a single-stop so that’s a definite area I knowweneed to get stronger in.” Hamilton came into this year with amore reserved mentality following his nightmare campaign last year, now favouring consistency over risking points finishes to fight for race victories. Hamilton started the year with three podium finishes, but a succession of pit stop errors cost him the chance of fighting for more. McLaren again suffered two sluggish stops in Canada, one when Hamilton nearly stalled after being released and a second when his right-rear wheel stuck. He said McLaren hadmade inroads into the issue and added that he still believed that consistency would pay.
“I had some problems again in the stops, which might have been my fault, but otherwise they were better and we’re constantly improving in that area,” he added. “I’m definitely not going to change myapproach as I think it’s working out pretty well so far.
“This race had to bemore risky than others to work, but it is all about consistency this year.”
Button’s struggles While Hamilton was enjoying his finest race of the season so far, his team-mate Jenson Button’s dismal run continued as he struggled to a 16th place finish for the second grand prix in succession.
Button lost practice time with a gearbox problem, and failed to cope with the Pirelli tyres during the race. He qualified in tenth place and started the race on the harder compound tyre but suffered high degradation and was also hampered by a lack of grip.
Button said: “It wasmyworst race for many years. I haven’t got a clue what to do at the moment and we don’t seem to bemaking any progress. After two laps there’s no grip anywhere. Obviously the car with a certain set-up is quick but what I’m driving isn’t awinning car. It’s definitely not a tyre problem as I can’t be the only guy who can’t drive on them.” McLaren head Martin Whitmarsh has backed Button to bounce back, despite him only scoring two points in the last four races and slipping to a distant eighth in the championship standings, 43 points behind Hamilton.
“Jenson is a great driver and we served him badly this weekend,” he said. “We didn’t long-run with this suspension set-up on Friday and that was our fault as we didn’t give him a car that he could perform in. Weknowhowsmart and strongminded Jenson is and hewill keep his head up as he’s more than capable of coming back from this.” Whitmarsh added that his team needed to keep pushing forwards if it was to retain its grip on the championship: “This is an abnormal season and I think it’ll be like this until the end. We leave here with Lewis leading the points but we don’t think that we are now in cruise mode and we’re going to win every race. It could all go horribly wrong next time out and that’s how finely balanced a championship should be.”
McLAREN-MERCEDES Hamilton’s victory in Canada marked a special time for the McLaren team, which was also celebrating its 300th grand prix with Mercedes-Benz engines.The 17-year partnership has had plenty of highs and lows:
300th grand prix with Mercedes-Benz engines.
The 17-year partnership has had plenty of highs and lows:
1995: McLaren cars take to the grid with Mercedes engines for the first time. Mika Häkkinen and Mark Blundell drive the two MP4/10s finishing fourth and sixth respectively in the opening race in Brazil. The partnership starts slowly and McLaren fails to win in either of the first two seasons
1997:David Coulthard takes the partnership’s first victory in Melbourne
1998:Mika Häkkinen scores the first McLaren-Mercedes world championship. beating Michael Schumacher and Ferrari, while McLaren-Mercedes wins its first – and so far only – constructors’ title
2001: McLaren-Mercedes is humbled by Ferrari as Michael Schumacher dominates the season and goes on to win five drivers’ titles in succession
2007:The team is excluded from the constructors’ championship after being
Häkkinen wo n tw o wo rld titles caught with Ferrari intellectual property in the ‘spygate’ scandal, while the feud between Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso allows Kimi Räikkönen to snatch the drivers’ crown for Ferrari
2008: Lewis Hamilton wins the drivers’ title after a decade of McLaren support
Mer c link-up beg an in 1995