Sorry Brits in bad shape: Hamilton calls for redesign after Webber wins at Silverstone
22:35 GMT, 8 July 2012
For once, those pesky McLaren pit stops ran like clockwork. Shame about the car.
The brutal truth of that Sunday's British Grand Prix.
Job done: Webber's Red Bull team rush to congratulate him as he crosses the finishing line
The temptation to jump out of the windows was intense.
And that was just for those of us listening.
The speaking was being done by Lewis
Hamilton and Jenson Button, their voices contemplative and quiet, having
finished eighth and 10th respectively.
They had arrived at Silverstone
talking of possessing a winning car – that turned out to be the preserve
of Red Bull's Mark Webber after he passed the Ferrari of Fernando
Alonso four laps from the end – but left not only beaten but baffled.
After a dismal qualifying in which
Hamilton was eighth fastest and Button 18th, their only realistic hope
of salvation on Sunday was the rain.
Silverstone had turned into Slitherstone over the weekend, with sodden roads jammed, cars mudsplatted and fans turned away.
Yet by the time the cars lined up on the grid, Noah was disembarking from his ark.
High hopes: Webber jumps for joy after clinching his second British Grand Prix win
Conditions remained dry throughout the 52-lap race.
As Button walked up to the motorhome for that miserable press briefing, the rain tipped down again.
He leaned forward so he could be heard under the battering on the roof.
Leading the way: Webber overtook Alonso late in the race
The Royal Shakespeare Company could not have staged the scene with more ironic drama.
'It's a good job in a way that it didn't rain during the race,' said Button, 'because it proves we haven't got the pace.'
He stands 79 points off Alonso in the championship summit, in eighth place. Hamilton 37 adrift, in fourth.
As for McLaren, they slipped down to fourth in the constructors' standings, behind Red Bull, Ferrari… and Lotus.
'McLaren were never really in the
race,' reflected Webber's team principal Christian Horner, enjoying what
for him was a delicious reality.
Coming out of The Loop at turn five on the opening lap, Di Resta was
sent spinning into the large run-off area, sustaining a left-rear
Although Di Resta managed to limp back to the pits, he sustained damage
to the floor that forced him back into the garage at the end of the
second lap, and ultimately out of the race.
Di Resta said: 'I've no indication as to what happened. I don't know if
someone caught me, but I picked up a puncture, and then the heavy damage
to the floor. There was no point carrying on.'
Clear skies: The expected rain stayed away
There was bitter frustration for Di Resta, felt by Sergio Perez too on
lap 12 as Pastor Maldonado again proved a danger to all around him.
From the seventh and ninth positions the duo pitted together, and after
returning to the track Perez was soon alongside Maldonado going into
Ditto McLaren's experience in the previous three years at this old airfield.
Button, who rated McLaren slower than
Williams and Sauber, said: 'When you see another car go past it's as if
you're standing still. They must be on rails. I don't know how.
'Personally, I felt as if I got everything I could out of the car.
'The strategy and stops worked but we're just not good enough at the moment.'
His anguish was not derived merely
from the stark reading on the piece of paper in front of him that stated
he has scored seven points from the last six races.
Such an abject afternoon was doubly hard in front of 125,000 fans mostly support ing him and Hamilton.
Missing out: Alonso had led the race from pole position before being overtaken
They have always been loyal to Button here, even through the thin and thinner days of his early career.
A word of credit in passing to the
organisers, who, after being woefully underprepared for the soggy
weather on Friday, managed to accommodate Sunday's crowd in still tricky
It took a lot of hard remedial work to do so.
But back to McLaren's tale of woe.
While Button managed to improve on his grid position, Hamilton did not.
Yes, he had some fun, including a brief duel with Alonso before making his first stop.
He had to yield in the end to the Spaniard' fresher rubber.
As the race wore on, Hamilton's car grew visibly slower. Predictably, he was just as down in the mouth afterwards as Button.
It's the pits: Webber comes in for a pit-stop
Their under-pressure team principal
Martin Whitmarsh was asked about the sensitive timing of Sunday's dismal
result, with Hamilton's contract up for renewal at the end of the
He replied that the former world champion's decision on his future would not be informed by one race.
It was put to Hamilton that the problem was not a single afternoon, but a broader and longer malaise at the team
He smiled knowingly, a reflection
that the car has lost ground since a promising start in Melbourne in
March and that his title was won back in 2008, rather than a
confirmation that he was about to up sticks, say to Red Bull.
He might yet do that, though.
Approaching his 100th race in
Hockenheim a fortnight hence – a fact that ages us all – he said: 'The
only positive that I'd take from today is the support from the fans.'
Close encounter: Alonso got off to a good start
Asked if the car was fundamentally flawed, he said: 'I'm not using those words; I'll let you use those words.
'You've got to look at the cars in detail – just look at them and ours look different from the others.'
That was presumably a reference to McLaren longer nose vis-a-vis everyone else's ugly, boxer's snout of a front.
'That's a significant difference,'
he went on. 'I'm not an aerodynamicist but there's got to be something
there, so that's what we're looking at for this car, but also for next
'It is too big a change for this season.
'I feel for us all at the team because everyone is working their a*** off.
'Jenson and I are working are a***s
off and the fans are giving us every ounce of support possible. But it's
just not happening.
'Coming to your home grand prix you want a big upgrade package. You want to be fastest and you want to win every year.
'But neither Jenson nor I have the car to be able to do that at the moment. We can get there. I believe we can get there.'
Mud bath: The car parks remained closed at Silverstone
Champagne moment: Webber is right in contention for the driver's championship title
Completing a nightmarish day for British drivers, Paul di Resta retired his Force India.
He lost pressure in his right rear when he apparently clipped Romain Grosjean's Lotus into the fourth turn of the race.
He got back out but went off at Becketts and decided that that was enough pain. We end on a positive note.
McLaren's four pit stops were achieved at an average of under three seconds for the first time.
In terms of seconds spent in the pit
lane time, they had the fastest two times of the day and four of the
six fastest times. Small mercies.