Archive for the ‘McLaren’ Category

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Hamilton Takes Win in Incident-Filled Belgian Grand Prix

August 29, 2010

Lewis Hamilton was all smiles this afternoon after he took an early lead and a seemingly easy win in Spa, while three of his title challengers failed to score following an incident-filled race.

Pole-sitter, Mark Webber got bogged down at the start, allowing second-placed starter, Hamilton, to shoot off into the lead. Robert Kubica found himself up to second, with Jenson Button up to third. Sebastian Vettel retained fourth, with Felipe Massa and Adrian Sutil up a place each to fifth and sixth, while Webber slipped back to seventh.

The rain started to fall, and by the end of the lap the drivers were struggling to make it round the Bus Stop chicane. Fernando Alonso, who made it up to eighth on the first lap, after starting tenth, was sent spinning after Rubens Barrichello was caught out under braking in the wet, and collected the Ferrari. The incident caused several other drivers to run wide through the chicane to avoid getting caught up in the collision, and it saw the end of Barrichello’s race, his 300th of his career. Alonso was able to get going again, heading into the pits for an early stop and a change to intermediate tyres.

Vettel made a move on Button into turn one on the second lap, but the McLaren driver was able to use his straightline speed advantage through Eau Rouge to keep the Red Bull at bay. Kubica found himself running wide on the exit of Eau Rouge, allowing the McLaren to take second. Vettel fancied his chances, but nearly lost control of his Red Bull as he was forced to take to the grass along the straight down to turn five, allowing Kubica to retain third. Webber was then making moves, and having passed Sutil, made a move on Massa for fifth into turn eight.

By lap three, the safety car had been deployed, and at the restart a lap later, Hamilton was forced to go defensive after running wide into turn one. Button saw his chances, but Hamilton wasn’t going to let him past.

As the track started to dry out, Alonso who had opted for intermediate tyres during his early pitstop, was forced to pit for fresh slicks on lap five, and it became apparent his gamble hadn’t paid off, as the track became considerably drier. By the end of the lap Hamilton was leading, from Button and Vettel, who had managed to pass Kubica at the restart, with Webber in fifth, Massa, Sutil, Nico Hulkenberg, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Nico Rosberg in sixth to tenth, respectively, and Vitaly Petrov and Michael Schumacher, who after starting from 23rd and 21st, had made their way up to 11th and 12th.

On lap 11, Petrov was piling the pressure on Rosberg, and after a good tow down the long straight from Eau Rouge, he was able to make a move stick through Les Combes, at turn five. Rosberg went defensive and ended up running wide, leaving Schumacher room to try and squeeze through. The pair made contact, causing Rosberg to lose a piece of his front-left end plate, as well as P10 and P11.

As Hamilton pulled out a comfortable lead from teammate Button at a rate of around eight tenths of a second in the middle sector alone on each lap, the reigning champion was finding himself under pressure from Vettel, with the latter unable to make a move due to the raw pace of the McLaren in a straight line. Vettel seemed to have no answer, but on lap 17 he found himself a lot closer to Button heading down towards the Bus Stop chicane, and he fancied his chances. The move was set to be disasterous, and Vettel found himself weaving around Button, and appeared to lose control, causing his wing to go head first into the side of the McLaren, seeing the end to Jenson’s race. Vettel was able to find his way back to the pits, cutting across the track from the runoff area at the Bus Stop, for a new nose and a set of fresh tyres. After coming back out in 12th, Vettel then found himself under investigation by the stewards for causing a collision. On lap 20, he passed Liuzzi for 11th, only to have the Force India snatch it back, and as he tried to find a way around, he was issued with a drive through, which he came in to serve at the end of the lap.

On lap 22, Sutil became the first of the front runners to pit for the harder compound tyre, rejoining the track in eighth. Webber stopped a lap later and rejoined in fourth, leaving Renault with no choice but to pit Kubica to try and keep him ahead of the Red Bull. The move worked and Kubica maintained second, while Massa, who pitted on the same lap, on lap 24, rejoined back in fourth, with Webber back in third. Hamilton came in next on lap 25 and maintained his lead.

As Hamilton rejoined the track, Sutil passed Schumacher, who was yet to pit, for fifth. By lap 27, Vettel, who was up to 12th, found himself in another scrap, clipping the front wing of Liuzzi, as he made a pass into the Bus Stop chicane. The Force India was forced to pit, but Vettel continued, only to find himself with a puncture later in the lap, and he had to limp back to the pits for more tyres, only to find himself in 20th upon rejoining the track.

The rain made its return on lap 35, and the mid field pitted for new tyres, the majority opting for the extreme wet tyres as opposed to the intermediates, in fear that the rain would worsen. As the pitlane filled up with cars coming in to make their stops, Alonso and Vettel very nearly made contact as the exited their pitboxes. On lap 36, as the rain indeed started to get heavier, Hamilton’s superb run was nearly ruined, as he failed to slow his McLaren down going into turn eight, and he very nearly found himself in the wall. Luckily, he was able to get out of the gravel and back on the road, and into the pits in the lead at the end of the lap. Kubica and Webber  joined him in coming into the pits, and while Hamilton was able to retain the lead after a successful switch to intermediates, Kubica overshot his pitbox, gifting second to Webber.

On lap 38, Vettel pitted for the fifth time for another set of full wet tyres, after his rear tyres from the previous set were shredded. As it became apparent it wasn’t wet enough for full wets, Alonso found himself in a spin and out of the race between turns seven and eight, as he hit the grass. The safety car was deployed while the marshals removed the Ferrari, which was halfway across the track, and returned to the pits at the end of lap 40. Hamilton tentatively led the pack through turn one at the restart, and he kept his cool from there for the remaining four laps, to take the win, with Webber second, Kubica third, and Massa, Sutil, Rosberg, Schumacher, Kobayashi, Petrov and Alguersuari in fourth to tenth, respectively.

Following the race, Alguersuari was then penalised for cutting the Bus Stop chicane at the restart after locking his wheel. He gained a position from Pedro de la Rosa for doing so, and having failed to give it back, the stewards demoted him of the position, gifting the last points-paying position to Liuzzi.

Hamilton’s victory puts him back in the lead of the drivers’ championship on 182 points, with Webber second on 179. Vettel’s scraps left him down in 15th as he crossed the line, and a failure to score leaves him 31 points off the lead in the race for the title, on 151 points. Failure to finish the race on both Button and Alonso’s parts, gives Hamilton and Webber the advantage, as the pair now sit further down the standings on 147 and 141, respectively. Massa’s fourth place finish puts him on 109 points, with Kubica on 104.

In the constructors’ standings, Red Bull remain in the lead on 330 points, while McLaren are hot on their heels on 329. Ferrari trail further behind on 250.

As ever, the changeable conditions of Spa have left a lot to be talked about, particularly in the Red Bull camp, as Vettel proved the pressure is starting to get to him after finding himself amongst the majority of incidents the race had to offer. Hamilton however, bounded onto the podium with a grin on his face after scoring his third victory of the season.

While Hamilton and Webber extend their lead to Vettel, Button and Alonso, it’s still a five-horse race as F1 heads into the final six rounds of the 2010 season. There are still a maximum of 150 points left up for grabs, but the pair will leave Spa with a spring in their step, knowing they stand a good chance of winning the title if things stay as they are.

The next race takes place in Italy, for the final round of the European leg of the season, in two weeks time, with qualifying on Saturday 11th September, and the race live on BBC1 at 1pm on Sunday 12th.

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Hamilton Wins Thrilling Canadian Grand Prix

June 13, 2010

Lewis Hamilton took his second win in succession this afternoon, leading home teammate Jenson Button for a McLaren one-two, in a Canadian Grand Prix that saw lots of action, and caused lots of problems for all the drivers.

Lewis, who started the race from pole, defended and fought his way to the win, in a race that posed tyre issues for everyone involved.

Hamilton got a good getaway from pole, defending second-placed starter Sebastian Vettel, who in turn kept Fernando Alonso at bay in third. Button, who started fourth, only just got cleanly through the first two corners, as Vitantonio Liuzzi and Felipe Massa, who started fifth and sixth, began their first of three collisions in the first two corners. Mark Webber, who started seventh after receiving a five-place grid-drop penalty for changing his gearbox, gained from Liuzzi and Massa’s scrap, finding himself in fifth and chasing down Button. At the end of the first lap, Massa pitted for a new nose, while Nico Hulkenberg and Kamui Kobayashi had a scrap in the final chicane, which saw the latter in the ‘champions’ wall’, and later out of the race.

By lap five, Webber had the speed over Button, and passed him into turn three, for fourth, while Robert Kubica fancied his chances and started piling the pressure on the reigning world champion. Button was the first of the front runners to pit on lap seven, as the McLaren team started to suffer on the super-soft tyres.

Hamilton and Alonso were the next to pit on lap eight, and despite leading Alonso by two seconds, a slow stop and wheel spin resulted in Hamilton finding himself side-by-side with Alonso exiting the pits. Alonso had the upper hand, and got out ahead of Hamilton, but the two’s battle wasn’t to end there.

Vettel had the lead of the race, with Webber in second, but that wasn’t for long, when Webber pitted for a fresh set of hard tyres. The Red Bull driver found himself behind Alonso, Hamilton and Button, while Vettel continued in the lead, ahead of Sebastien Buemi in second.

Vettel was next to pit, gifting the lead to Buemi, and the Red Bull team chose to put the German on the super-softs. Alonso was soon on the attack, over the back of Buemi, but as the two fought, Hamilton saw his chance, and as Buemi pitted on lap 16, a lap after Vettel, Lewis once again had the lead of the race, and by lap 19 he was leading Alonso, from Button, Vettel, Webber, Kubica, Adrian Sutil, Buemi, Nico Rosberg, and Hulkenberg.

Hamilton then found himself under threat from Alonso while passing a back-marker, and made a last minute decision to dive out of the way into the pits on lap 26, taking another set of the harder compound tyre. Button and Vettel were the next to pit for more hard tyres on lap 28, with Alonso pitting from the lead at the end of the lap. Despite having an advantage over Hamilton, Alonso lost the position to the McLaren after traffic on his in lap held him up, and as the last of the front four to pit, he gifted the lead to Webber.

Webber extended his lead to 11 seconds over Hamilton, but as his hard tyre started to fall apart, he found himself being reeled in by the Hamilton-train, who were all confirmed to not have to pit again. Webber’s lead was punctured by a second a lap, and on lap 50, Hamilton passed him on the start/finish straight. Alonso was next in line to pass the Red Bull driver, but Webber pitted for the super-soft tyres on lap 51, before the Ferrari had the chance.

From then, Hamilton was in control, but Alonso, while lapping the Force Indias and Massa, found himself losing second to Button, who saw a way through. Button was then left to put pressure on Hamilton, but his teammate was ready to respond, setting fastest lap after fastest lap to the finish line.

Hamilton finished just over two seconds ahead of Button, with Alonso a further seven seconds behind in third. Vettel finished fourth, with Webber fifth, losing out through his strategy. Rosberg came through in sixth, ahead of Kubica in seventh, Buemi in eighth, and Liuzzi and Sutil in ninth and tenth, who found a way round the slowing Michael Schumacher on the final lap. The seven-time champion, who failed to make it through to the final round of qualifying yesterday, was seen playing dirty in the closing laps, pushing Massa towards the wall in the final two turns, dislodging the Ferrari’s front wing, after Massa tried to make a pass on Schumacher, who had been struggling with his worn out tyres.

Hamilton’s win hands him the lead of the drivers’ championship on 109 points, ahead of Button on 106, and Webber on 103. Alonso sits down in fourth on 94, with Vettel on 90, while Rosberg and Kubica are beginning to trail on 74 and 73, respectively.

McLaren edge further forward into the lead of the constructors’ championship on 215 points, with Red Bull on 193, and Ferrari beginning to trail on 161.

The next race is in Valencia in two weeks time, with qualifying on Saturday 26th June, and the race live on BBC1 on Sunday 27th.

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Red Bull Fall at 8th Hurdle as Hamilton Takes Canadian Pole

June 12, 2010

Red Bull’s run of consecutive poles came to an end this afternoon, when Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in qualifying for tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver set the fastest time in Q1 and Q2, and was on course for pole throughout Q3, until Mark Webber set provisional pole. But Hamilton played a blinder on his last lap, and set a time of 1:15.105 to knock the Red Bulls of their perch.

Hamilton was then forced to stop on the track after running low on fuel, and he was seen celebating is pole pushing his McLaren back towards the pits.

Webber very nearly took pole as the chequered flag came down on Q3, but was pipped by Hamilton by over two tenths of a second. Sebastian Vettel, who struggled with tyre temperature throughout Q3, pulled a quick lap out of the bag when it mattered, and will start third ahead of Fernando Alonso in fourth.

Jenson Button, who only just made it into Q3, set the fifth fastest time, while Vitantonio Liuzzi scored his best qualifying result of the season, setting the sixth fastest time, ahead of Felipe Massa in seventh, Robert Kubica in eighth, Adrian Sutil in ninth, and Nico Rosberg in tenth, who out-qualified teammate Michael Schumacher, who failed to improve on 13th. The two will be split by the Williams’ of Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg in 11th and 12th.

Vitaly Petrov will start in 14th, with the Toro Rossos of Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari 15th and 16th, with Pedro de la Rosa 17th and Kamui Kobayashi in 18th, failing to get through to Q2, and joining the three new teams at the back of the grid.

Hamilton made it a hat trick of poles in Canada today, and will be hoping for his second win in succession tomorrow.

The race starts live on BBC1 at 5pm.

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Hamilton Wins Nail-Biting Turkish Grand Prix

May 30, 2010

Lewis Hamilton won his first race of 2010 in Turkey this afternoon, leading home teammate Jenson Button for a McLaren one-two, in a nail-biting 58 laps that saw the two Red Bulls collide, and very nearly saw the McLarens run out of fuel.

Mark Webber took an early lead from pole, while Hamilton slipped back behind Sebastian Vettel after a slow start from the dirty side of the grid. Michael Schumacher made a move from fifth, taking Button for fourth in the first corner, but while Hamilton snatched second back off Vettel in turn three, Button stole fourth from Schumacher in turn 12, using the pure straight-line speed of the McLaren to edge around the Mercedes.

Webber led Hamilton into the first round of pitstops, with Hamilton keeping the Red Bull honest, having a look once or twice into turn 12. Vettel had been the first of the front four to pit, on lap 15, and the early stop meant that when Webber and Hamilton stopped a lap later, Vettel managed to take second off Hamilton after the Brit was delayed in his pitbox.

Button was next to pit from the front four, but was unable to leapfrog the other three to take the lead, and he fed out behind his teammate. Hamilton fought to hold on to the Red Bulls, and on lap 18 he tried to pass Vettel into turn 12, but ran wide.

The front four stayed as they were for the laps that followed, keeping the gap between them down to less than three seconds. Webber was the slowest of the four, and on lap 40, Vettel made a move down the straight into turn 12, but the two collided, seeing an end to Vettel’s race, and leaving Webber in third. Hamilton went through to take the lead, with Button just over a second behind him.

Then came the message from McLaren to save fuel, as both drivers had a high consumption and there were fears they wouldn’t make it to the end of the race. Button reeled in Hamilton, and on lap 48, passed his teammate into turn 12. The two were wheel-to-wheel in a heart-in-mouth duel, as Hamilton fought to take the lead back off Button, making it stick into turn two on the following lap. Button was once again given a warning by the team to save fuel, and he backed off, following Hamilton home for a McLaren one-two.

Meanwhile, Webber, who was forced to stop for a new nose following his collision with Vettel, came through to finish third, while Schumacher, some 25 seconds off the leaders for the majority of the race, finished fourth.

Elsewhere in the field, the top ten on the grid resumed their positions for the majority of the race, Schumacher settling back into fifth after Button reclaimed fourth on the opening lap, while his teammate, Nico Rosberg, had a quiet race in sixth, ahead of Robert Kubica and Felipe Massa who started seventh and eighth. All four retained their positions for the majority of the race. Vitaly Petrov held ninth off the grid, while Adrian Sutil passed Kamui Kobayashi for tenth.

As the race began to unfold, Schumacher found himself fourth following Vettel’s retirement, with Rosberg fifth, Kubica sixth and Massa seventh. Fernando Alonso, who made his way up from 12th to ninth behind Petrov, had a fight for eighth on lap 54, and the two made contact, resulting in a puncture for Petrov, gifting ninth to Sutil and tenth to Kobayashi, who scored BMW Sauber’s first point of the season.

So while the fans were left with a nail-biting race that saw contact between the Red Bulls and a battle between the McLarens along with a fight to save fuel, Hamilton was left to take his first win of the season, edging him closer to Mark Webber in the fight for the title. Webber retains his lead in the championship on 93 points, with Button on 88, Hamilton on 84, Alonso holding on to fourth with 79 points, and Vettel out of the race and failing to score, leaving him on 78 points.

In the constructors’ battle, it’s all change, as McLaren lead the way on 172 points having scored the maximum of 43 points for the weekend. Red Bull sit in second on 161, with Ferrari on 146. Mercedes join the top three teams in triple figures, on 100 points, while Renault trail on 73.

So McLaren head to Canada in two weeks time, having caught up with the previously unstoppable Red Bulls. McLaren may have taken the lead of the constructors’ battle, but will Button or Hamilton be leading the drivers’ battle out of Montreal? Qualifying is on Saturday 12th June, with the race live on BBC1 at 5pm on Sunday 13th.

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Button Heads McLaren 1-2 in Rainy China

April 18, 2010

Jenson Button became the first driver to take a double win in 2010, making a tyre call early on that would see him in control of the race, leading home his McLaren teammate in a wet Chinese Grand Prix.

There was plenty of action once again this year, and before the lights even went out, Fernando Alonso was jumping the start. His over-eagerness enabled him to get around Sebastian Vettel, while Mark Webber made a quick move past his teammate, but ultimately lost out to Alonso’s jump-start as well.

A safety car was soon to follow after Vitantonio Liuzzi, Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastien Buemi crashed at turn three, and the front-runners, bar Nico Rosberg, Button, Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov who made the call to stay out on slicks, came in for intermediate tyres. Alonso was among those stopping, but he was soon handed a drive-through penalty for jumping the start. In the meantime, Rosberg led the way on the slick tyres, while teammate Michael Schumacher, who had been among those who pitted for intermediates earlier on, began struggling, and was forced to pit once more for a fresh set of slicks. Schumacher was the first of several drivers who had to pit again, proving Rosberg and Button had made the right tyre choice.

By lap 6, Hamilton and Vettel found themselves losing time on the intermediate tyres, and both drivers raced into the pitlane, nose to tail, for a fresh set of slicks. But it was on their release from their pitboxes that became the most talked about incident after the race. Both were released within a second of each other, and it was Hamilton who ended up side-by-side with Vettel. The two fought their way down the pitlane, with Vettel nudging Hamilton, who was on the inside, between the slow lane and the fast lane, towards the mechanics. Hamilton eventually backed off, and Vettel exited the pitlane ahead of the McLaren driver. Both drivers were later reprimanded for the incident, narrowly escaping a post-race penalty.

While Rosberg maintained his lead, Vettel and Hamilton were left fighting their way through the pack. On lap eight, both drivers made their move on Rubens Barrichello, and by lap ten, Hamilton passed Webber on the back straight. On lap 11 Vettel passed Heikki Kovalainen in the Lotus. The Finn had spent the last couple of laps going backwards, having previously got up to sixth by lap nine. Hamilton made his move on his former teammate into turns one and two on lap 12, and Webber soon followed. On lap 13, Vettel was busy making a pass on Adrian Sutil, when Hamilton saw a way through, diving up the inside at the hairpin of turn 14, taking both Vettel and Sutil. Vettel eventually made the move on Sutil stick, while Hamilton continued to make a move, chasing down seven-time champion, Schumacher.

By lap 17, after two laps of trying to pass Schumacher at the hairpin, Hamilton made another attempt to get past the Mercedes driver, and although Schumacher tried to defend for the third time, Hamilton was able to get past after the German ran wide. Vettel and Webber were next on the attack, both successfully managing to pass Schumacher, sending the seven-time champion backwards through the pack.

On lap 19, after Rosberg ran off the track, Button was able to make a move to take the lead of the race. Rain began to fall, and by lap 20 cars began pitting for intermediates. Hamilton and Vettel came in on lap 21, with race-leader Button in a lap later.

Following contact with Bruno Senna on lap 21, Jaime Alguersuari suffered a broken front wing on his way into the pits for intermediates. The Spanish driver’s wing was already suffering when he clipped the kerb causing the wing to disappear under the car. The on-track incident between Alguersuari and Senna saw left-over debris on the track, and the second safety car of the race was deployed.

The restart came a few laps later, and it was Button left in charge as the safety car dived back into the pits at the end of lap 25. Button slowed right down at the hairpin of turn 14, causing the pack to bunch up, sending Hamilton slightly wide. By the last corner, after passing the first safety car line, Hamilton had Vettel all over the back of his McLaren, and Hamilton ended up pushing Webber wide. Both the Red Bulls lost ground, while Button led the way from Rosberg, Hamilton was left to make yet another move on Schumacher, who having pitted earlier than the McLaren and the two Red Bull drivers, had managed to make ground. Hamilton saw the opportunity into turn eight, and dived up the inside passing the German for fifth. A lap later and he passed Petrov in the same way, and next in his sights was Kubica in third. He didn’t have to wait long, passing the Renault driver at the hairpin on lap 30.

Button continued to build a gap between himself and Rosberg in second, and was some five seconds ahead of the young German. Hamilton tried to pass Rosberg on lap 36, but failed to make his turn eight manoeuvre work, and he pitted for a fresh set of intermediates on lap 37. Button and Rosberg pitted from the front a lap later, and while Button maintained his lead, Rosberg lost out, exiting the pits behind Hamilton who had made his way up to second.

As the last 20 laps played out, both Hamilton and Button’s tyres began to wear out. Hamilton was the first to complain, and after Button locked both front wheels into the hairpin on lap 52, it was obvious he was struggling too. Both battled on, and Button’s lock-up meant Hamilton was able to pull the ten second gap down to just 2. 6 seconds in the closing laps.

Button eventually crossed the line 1.5 seconds ahead of Hamilton, and the win, his second of the second elevates him to the top of the drivers’ standings with 60 points. Rosberg’s third-place finish sees him second in the standings on 50 points, with Hamilton just behind on 49. Alonso gained the most from the two safety cars, and despite his jump-start and drive-through penalty, he managed to finish fourth, pulling him level in the championship standings with Hamilton on 49 points. Kubica finished yet another successful race for Renault in fifth, with Vettel sixth, and Petrov seventh after a pass on Schumacher in the closing laps of the race. Webber finished eighth, ahead of Massa in ninth. Schumacher rounded out the top ten points-scorers in tenth. For the rest of the pack, Sutil finished 11th, with Barrichello in 12th, Alguersuari 13th, Kovalainen 14th, Nico Hulkenberg 15th, and Senna and Karun Chandhok 16th and 17th. Jarno Trulli, Lucas di Grassi, Pedro de la Rosa, Buemi, Kobayashi and Liuzzi all failed to finish.

For the fourth race in a row this season, the pole sitter has failed to turn his pole into victory, and Vettel now sits fifth in the standings on 45, with Massa sixth on 41, Kubica seventh on 40, and Webber eighth on 28. Schumacher and Sutil both have ten points, with the seven-time champion having failed to take substantial points for the fourth race in a row. In the constructors standings, McLaren’s one-two has put them ahead on 109 points, with Ferrari on 90, Red Bull on 73, Mercedes on 60 and Renault on 46.

The European season begins in three weeks time with the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona on the 9th May.

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Button Wins Action-Packed Australian GP

March 28, 2010

Jenson Button took his first victory of the season this morning, letting his rivals know they have a fight on their hands if they want to steal his crown.

The reigning world champion took an early gamble, changing his intermediate tyres to slicks on lap six, and while everyone thought it was a bad move, he proved he was a worthy champion when, after the rest of the front-runners pitted, he found himself in second, behind pole sitter, Sebastian Vettel.

Button said of his early pitstop: “It was the right call and I am happy I made it.” Of his first win with Mclaren he said: “It is very special.”

Button’s race started poorly, when contact in the first corner with Fernando Alonso saw the champion lose ground. Alonso came out worse off, spinning 180 degrees, being forced into last place. Michael Schumacher got caught up in the spin, and a broken front wing saw him take an early pitstop, and he spent the majority of his race at the back of the pack caught up behind Jaime Alguersuari.

A broken front wing for Kamui Kobayashi saw him slide off the track at turn three, collecting Nico Hulkenberg and bringing out the safety car. Sebastian Vettel led the way behind the safety car, with Felipe Massa, Mark Webber, Robert Kubica and Nico Rosberg rounding out the top five.

On lap four the safety car came in, and Button, who by that point was down to sixth, was forced to defend himself against teammate Lewis Hamilton, up in seventh from 11th on the grid. Hamilton made a brave move on Button, making it stick, and it wasn’t long after that, that Button pitted for slicks.

His outlap was hit and miss, running off into the gravel in the first sector, but setting the fastest time in sectors two and three. Massa, Kubica, Rosberg and Hamilton then pitted for slicks, leaving Vettel leading Webber, with Button down in 19th.

By the time the Red Bulls pitted on the next two laps, they lost ground. Vettel, who pitted first, was eventually able to hold onto the lead, while Webber slipped through the pack, eventually ending up behind Massa. By the time the mid field, who momentarily had hold of the lead, pitted, Button was back in the mix, second behind Vettel, with Kubica, Rosberg and Massa in third, fourth and fifth.

Hamilton found himself behind Rubens Barrichello momentarily, after getting held up in the pitlane while other cars passed his pitbox, but after passing Rubens he soon had Webber and Massa in his sights. Webber made his move on Massa for fifth on lap 16 in the first corner, and Hamilton seized the opportunity, taking Massa as well to line up Webber in turn three. When Webber ran wide into turn three, nearly colliding with a dicey Hamilton, Massa saw a gap and passed both drivers to reclaim fifth.

Hamilton was then forced to stare at the back of Massa’s Ferrari until lap 22 when he got into Massa’s slipstream, passing him into turn one, while appearing to lose a bit of his front wing. Alonso, who had made his way up to seventh, passing Webber when he ran wide on lap 16, also fancied a look at his teammate, but Webber saw a way through and passed the unsuspecting Ferrari.

Hamilton then charged on, catching and passing Rosberg for fourth on lap 26. It soon became third when Vettel’s race came to an end on the same lap, suffering with brake failure.

Webber and Rosberg were the first to pit for the second time on laps 33 and 34, putting them both back behind Massa and Alonso, with a considerable gap of around 20 seconds.

Hamilton was then left to hunt down Kubica for second, and was all over the back of the Renault when he was pitted unexpectedly for a fresh set of tyres on  lap 35. Had it not been for the stop, Hamilton may have joined Button at the front, fighting for the first position Button had inherited from Vettel, but it wasn’t to be, and with a fresh set of tyres, Lewis, in fifth with Webber behind in sixth, began gaining a second or two a lap on the Kubica-Massa-Alonso train. A 20 second gap soon became no gap at all, but Hamilton, caught in Alonso’s dirty air had problems trying to pass, as his tyres started falling apart. On lap 56, Hamilton saw his chance, but while making a move on Alonso into turn three, Webber braked too late sending Hamilton into a spin, sending himself off the track. Hamilton recovered, but Rosberg was already through, having caught up with the pair. Webber was forced to pit for a third time for a new front wing, while Button was free to start his final lap on his way to victory.

Kubica kept it together to cross the line in second, just ahead of Massa, Alonso and Rosberg, with Hamilton down in sixth.

The McLaren driver said of his race: “I had probably one of the drives of my life. I am happy with the job that I did. I drove my heart out today” Of his unscheduled stop he said: “The strategy was not right.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi crossed the line seventh, ahead of Barrichello, Webber and Schumacher in tenth.

Schumacher’s main rival for the race, Alguersuari, narrowly missed out on some points, finishing in 11th, with De la Rosa in 12th, Heikki Kovalainen once again finishing for Lotus in 13th, and Karun Chandhok finishing his first race for HRT in 14th.

Button’s win elevates him to third in the championship standings with 31 points, with Massa just ahead on 33. Alonso retains the lead on 37 points, while Hamilton drops to fourth with 23 points. Ferrari extend their lead in the constructors’ championship with 70 points, with McLaren just behind on 54 points.

The next race is next weekend, with qualifying on Saturday 3rd April, and the race live on BBC1 at 9am on Sunday 4th.

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Hamilton on Pole for Last Race of the Season

October 31, 2009

Lewis Hamilton took the final pole of the season in qualifying at Abu Dhabi this afternoon, while Jenson Button, the new 2009 world champion set the fifth fastest time ahead of tomorrow’s race.

Hamilton set the fastest lap times in all three rounds of qualifying, showing the McLaren is in a class of its own this weekend at the brand new Yas Marina circuit. He finished the final session with a time of 1:40.948, 0.7 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel who will start alongside him on the grid.

Vettel will be aiming to come away with more points than Rubens Barrichello tomorrow in order for him to secure second in this year’s world drivers’ championship. Barrichello will start tomorrow’s race from fourth, alongside third-placed Mark Webber, on the second row of the grid, and ahead of Jenson Button in fifth in his first race after securing the title.

Kimi Raikkonen will start his last race for Ferrari from 11th after just missing out on the top ten shoot out, Heikki Kovalainen will start what could possibly be his last race for McLaren from 13th after he stopped out on track during Q2 with suspected gearbox problems. Fernando Alonso starts his last race for Renault before his move to Ferrari from 16th, while Giancarlo Fisichella will start what is likely to be his last F1 race in 20th after another poor qualifying session.

With the focus now on who can finish where in the standings for the season, with all being well in tomorrow’s race, Hamilton looks likely to secure fifth in the drivers’ standings over Raikkonen, while McLaren look set to take third from Ferrari in the constructors’, after a difficult season for both teams.

Tomorrow’s race is also set to be F1’s first ‘twilight race’, starting in daylight and finishing under flood lights. The new circuit is set to end the season on a high, with Hamilton and his KERS-equipped McLaren looking good to take the last win.