Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Sepang, 2011

Hamilton called for his extra tyre stop at McLaren

2011 Malaysian GP team review

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An extra pit stop ruined Lewis Hamilton’s race after he hit tyre trouble in Malaysia.

Lewis Hamilton Jenson Button
Qualifying position 2 4
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’34.974 (-0.226) 1’35.200
Race position 8 2
Laps 56/56 56/56
Pit stops 4 3

McLaren drivers’ lap times throughout the race:


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56
Lewis Hamilton 112.046 105.508 104.721 104.879 104.663 104.423 104.996 105.063 106.162 105.9 106.58 111.199 124.252 105.676 104.079 105.445 104.102 103.388 103.304 103.299 102.919 102.966 103.009 105.618 122.238 103.322 102.733 102.258 102.457 102.732 102.333 102.617 102.525 102.782 103.144 103.61 106.927 124.636 103.305 102.769 103.276 102.937 102.579 103.035 103.781 103.841 103.77 103.617 103.587 103.556 103.855 111.722 120.472 101.512 101.888 101.776
Jenson Button 113.644 105.759 105.101 105.203 105.419 104.914 104.961 104.753 105.203 105.665 106.391 107.557 110.787 123.347 106.36 104.098 106.241 103.673 103.315 103.411 103.158 102.798 105.666 119.681 102.17 102.592 102.589 102.133 102.081 102.618 102.427 102.417 102.482 102.874 103.437 103.595 104.183 107.026 119.845 101.388 101.748 102.361 102.39 101.713 101.615 101.625 101.471 102.12 101.896 101.264 101.777 102.722 101.881 102.408 102.446 102.694
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Sepang, 2011
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Sepang, 2011

Lewis Hamilton

McLaren were much closer to Red Bull’s pace in qualifying and Hamilton came within a tenth of a second of taking pole position – a far cry from the situation in Melbourne.

But while trying to find a way past Sebastian Vettel at the start he was passed for second by Nick Heidfeld.

McLaren got Hamilton ahead of Heidfeld by bringing him into the pits a lap earlier and giving him the benefit of a lap on fresher tyres before Heidfeld.

But at his second stop Hamilton had to switch to hard tyres having flat-spotted one set of softs during qualifying. His pace on those tyres was less good – and on the next set it was worse.

Hamilton came under attack from Fernando Alonso, but Alonso dropped back after hitting the rear of the McLaren. Hamilton was powerless to keep Heidfeld behind, though.

According to McLaren, it was Hamilton who made the call for a final extra pit stop which dropped him from fourth to seventh.

There were shades of Shanghai ’07 in Hamilton’s predicament – another occasion when he found himself lapping on very worn tyres for too long.

Compounding his misery, he was handed a 20-second time penalty after the race, which cost him another place. The stewards judged he had changed lines more than once while defending his position – something he had be warned about at the same track last year.

Lewis Hamilton 2011 form guide

Jenson Button

Button may have been out-qualified by his team mate but his race pace was better.

Hamilton’s slow third pit stop handed Button second place. But comparing their lap times is it’s doubtful Hamilton would have been able to keep him behind anyway.

Jenson Button 2011 form guide

2011 Malaysian Grand Prix

Browse all 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix articles

Image ?? www.mclaren.com

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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133 comments on “Hamilton called for his extra tyre stop at McLaren”

  1. Interesting to see all the stops that mattered, were faster for Button than for Hamilton. Conspiracy theorists unite! ;)

    1. Or his in and out laps were faster….

      1. Speaking of in and out laps, these tyres are pretty crazy. I understand why they refer to the tyre degridation as falling off a cliff. They seem to have fairly consistent times and then all of a sudden put in a lap 3 seconds slower. Its also surprising how quickly they get back on the pace. I remember when it used to take a couple of laps to get up to operating temperature and on the pace. Now they are quick straight away. On Jenson’s last stint his first lap was the second fastest lap time on that stint.

      2. On one of his pit stops he didn’t stop in the correct place so the mechanics had to shuffle up. I think that, and the sticky front left was the result of the 6.9 second stop.

        1. Regardless of the pit stop time length, look at the third and fourth stint. Button got quicker on each stint… normal considering fuel load is going down. Hamilton does not get better after 2nd tyre change (3rd stint) and then proceeds to get worse after 3rd tyre change. When he finally gets his fourth tyre change (5th stint) look at how his times drop down to match Buttons fourth stint.

          The question therefore is why did he not get the tyres he used on his last stint a change earlier? Clearly he was given wrong tyres on the 3rd stop. Also look how his times drop off after lap 45. Are you telling me the engineers couldn’t work out that he is going slower on these tyres than the last pair and thus call him in? He should have gone in before Alonso. He would have finished ahead of him had this happened.

          No conspiracy just awful decision making in the McLaren camp. If a mistake is made why did they do nothing?

  2. Keith, you summed up Button’s performance quite shortly.

    Anyway points to make regarding the laptimes.

    – Hamilton > Button. Not just in qualifying, but also on longer stints. This was especially true at the beginning.
    – Maybe Hamiltons’ penultimate stint has been run on used primes. He just couldn’t get them work properly. The gap between him and Button suddenly grew too large. It must have been something with the tyres besides Hamiltons’ usual aggressive driving style.

    1. Lewis also flat spotted a set of tyres in Quali that he couldnt use for the race.

      I stil think JB is a better driver than people give him credit for. But I remain in the minority :-)

      1. I stil think JB is a better driver than people give him credit for. But I remain in the minority :-)

        I’ll join you on that one.

        1. Here, here.

          1. Agreed! You can see his consistency in lap times too

          2. Well last year he was in a car that he had no hand in developing, so it stands to reason he’ll be more competitive with Hamilton this season. This race isn’t going to help dispell the idea that Hamilton is particularly hard on tires and Button smooth on them, when on the hard tires Button was faster than anyone, and Hamilton was slower than just about anyone in a top car.

        2. “The Podum” is usually very good in the races, but until he picks up that .25s he gives up Saturdays, he doesn’t get up to the first tier. He is a good compliment to Hamilton, who can absolutely blaze, but still now and again has things go totally wrong on Sunday.

      2. I stil think JB is a better driver than people give him credit for. But I remain in the minority

        I’ll admit that I’m one of those annoying hot/cold fans who will now admit that since he’s joined Mclaren he’s a lot better than I ever gave him credit for. :P

      3. Always said that and always will. Some people just look at the headline times i.e Qualifying, and seem to forget the consistently quick 50+ laps put in the GP itself. Button is much better than most give him credit for.

      4. 2Ugandan Discussions
        12th April 2011, 10:35

        If he0s a better driver, where has he been all along?

        me too. JB is back!

      5. Maybe we’re still a minority but count me on. JB is far, far better than LH. McL should take note.

        1. haha good one!

      6. Regardless what you credit him for he is still as unexiting to watch as a certain Alain!

  3. I’m a big fan of Lewis, and I don’t think there are too many better drivers on the grid.

    As a McLaren fan I do get a bit hacked off when he continually shoots his mouth off after the race, only for Martin Whitmarsh to have to say he’ll feel better when he’s had a think about it.

    The facts are he was pretty hard on his tyres yesterday, and one of his stops was a bad one. He’s been on the recieving end of some great strategy calls from McLaren and great stops over the years.

    But if I was the guy working on his car at MTC till midnight, or making all of the pressurised calls on the pitlane wall, I’d be getting a bit sick of the lack of team spirit from Lewis.

    Come on lewis, win as a team and lose as a team…..

    1. If he was so hard on his tyres why did the softs not fall off even worse than the hards? Clearly this was a balance/set-up problem, or maybe he had a dud second set of hards, or didn’t put enough heat into them trying to save them.

      I don’t know what interview you saw yesterday, I didn’t hear him shoot his mouth at all, he just looked gutted, not a single criticism about the team. And the guy thanked the team about a million times for turning the car around, both in Melbourne and before the race.


      All the time he says “we” when talking about the negative bits. I call that “losing as a team”

      1. Drivers are in control of the car, for every lap. And McLaren don’t make the tyres… there are always variances in tyres.

        I just dont accept that a driver is completely out of the loop with calling strategy and also in how long his tyres last (the driver is surely a key part of them lasting or not).

        These are the comments I was referring to,


        1. Seriously you are talking about papers. Unless you heard the interview yourself take it with a ‘pitch of salt’
          Some of it was implied but never said, even the BBC text under some of the videos states things he didn’t say, but the same is true of nearly all drivers. Most of the the papers so called interviews weren’t even there and they are second hand quotes.

        2. When i read these sort of comments from McLaren fans it leaves me wondering whether this is the same Hamilton who has won the only trophy for the team in over a decade.

          After that sort of performance shouldn’t he complain? Its only two weeks ago that Button was similarly shooting his mouth off so we know that is the nature of drivers. We have heard Button blame the team strategy countless times – do the rules change because its Lewis?

          Besides, there is no direct quote of Hamilton making these complaints to the press so it would appear like Whitmarsh deliberately put the “Lewis said a few things straight after the race which were from his view in the cockpit… when he looks back I’m sure he’ll have a different opinion” quote to the media to divert attention from the team to the driver.

          Lets evaluate the Whitmarsh blame game on Sunday purely on merit – what did Hamilton do to perform so badly on the hard tires? Really, what? It can’t have been aggressive driving since he had done a good job on softs. Those hard tires were off right from the pits. It can’t have been a penalty because that came after the race. It can’t have been rain because there was none. He did not crash into anybody, did not make a bad overtaking move nor flat spot his tyres during the race. So what is Whitmarsh telling us Hamilton did wrong?

          And if we can’t nail what Hamilton did wrong then it has to be the team. We know his pitstops were consistently slower than Buttons and indeed the third was so long he gave a place up to his teammate. We know he switched the tyres when he was still competitive – FIA times colloborate that. We know he was inexplicably slow on the hard tyres – as Button said in the interview, this tyres brought his car to “life”. It was the same McLaren Lewis was driving, how come his car did not have a similar response to the hard tyres? This last bit negates the need for the soft set Lewis had flat spotted in quali – unless the teams wants us to believe he was managing the soft tyres better than the hard ones; which frankly is simply counter-intuitive.

          As i said earlier, i will watch China with lots of interest.

      2. I’ve actually read loads of the mainstream newspaper coverage of the F1 today and they pretty much all go with “hamilton blaming the team strategy” Although bizzarely The Times tried to pretend that the clash with Alonso was to blame for his lack of pace which was at best sloppy journalism and at worst deliberate distortion of the facts.

        Anyway the quote they used for saying Hamilton blamed the team was from Whitmarsh saying “Lewis said a few things straight after the race which were from his view in the cockpit… when he looks back I’m sure he’ll have a different opinion”

        So basically it seems he had a bit of a pop a McLaren strategy when he got out of the car, but like I said he’s not the first and won’t be the last driver to have a moan straight after the race.

        1. I agree that it’s understandable that drivers shoot their mouths off a bit. However, Lewis keeps making this same criticism it feels like when it comes to strategy and he’d be wise to have a good at someone else other than his team because they’re the guys he has to rely on.

          1. I don’t really follow. Who else should he complain to if he thinks his team brought him in too early? It doesn’t excuse any “hairdryer treatment” but I don’t get what point you’re making.

          2. Should he have kissed Whitmarsh after that sort of performance?

        2. So basically he had a go at the team in private. That’s Whitmarsh’s prerogative to report. He said nothing to the media himself.

          I don’t see what the problem is, if every other driver does this. The guy just can’t win, first people complain he speaks in PR all the time then moan when he shows a human side.

    2. It’d be nice if he’d keep his criticism quiet until he’d calmed down a bit but these guys have just done 60 odd laps in crazy heat and humidity with adrenaline pumping through them. Hamilton’s not exactly the only driver to mouth off after he gets out of the car.

      Although I have to say Hamilton’s lack of pace was ultimately his own fault. Button was pretty close in qualifying and drove brilliantly in the race to fully deserve his second place.

      1. The first part of the race lewis was pretty much faster than Jenson. When Jenson was on softs and lewis on hards jenson was only about 1 or 2 tenths faster. All went wrong for lewis after the third pitstop. Some of you need to watch the race again.

        1. Jenson was a second and more faster, it dropped down when he caught Hamilton

          1. MacademiaNut
            12th April 2011, 6:24

            After the second stop, BUT was on softs. HAM was on hard tyres. Hence the 1 sec. difference.

      2. I’m not saying he is the only driver to comment on things, but I agree with you that he could do with cooling down sometimes before giving quotes. Its the manner in which its said that sometimes could do with a bit more polishing…:-)

        As I said, I like the guy, I think he just gets a little hot headed when things dont go well.

        1. If you just ran a race when you thought you could/should have had a podium finish and right after that you have to talk to some journalist while obviously being a bit frustrated you might say some things you regret later on. It’s the emotions at that time.

          And like they said, last week people were complaining about his PR talk now he has some criticism against his team (justified or not) and again people complain :)

          Can’t please everybody I guess.

  4. The key part to the narrative here is “But at his second stopHamilton had to switch to hard tyres having flat-spotted one set of softs during qualifying”. So there lies the clue to the 2nd stint lack of pace.

  5. The extra tyre stop didn’t ruin Lewis race, matter of fact, After his incident with Alonso, he should’ve pitted just like Alonso. He was losing 2 sec per lap even before the incident. McLaren will never clarify it. But, i’m sure they gave him the wrong set of tyres for his 4th stint. The 3rd pitstop and the 2nd set of hards tyres ruined his race.

    1. It seems like they had problem with hard tyre. Interestingly Button had problem with soft tyre and when he got hard, the problem has gone.

      1. Interestingly Button had problem with soft tyre and when he got hard, the problem has gone.

        That’s often the case.

        1. Was that meant as a joke or a serious comment, either way I giggled at it.

          1. LOL, me too!

      2. lmao. all the problems in the world seem to disappear when you get hard ;)

        1. but it gets even better if you finish it off on a high!

        2. As long as you stay safe and always remember to use new rubber… :p

      3. OMG I noticed it just a minute ago lol

    2. Extra stop cost at least 22s. Losing 2s per lap with 5 laps left = 10s.
      Basically the extra tyre stop was a bit too late. He should called it when he noticed that he was down 1.5-2s per lap relative to Button.
      But I’m not driving… probably at that time the car was un-drive-able so he had to made that stop.
      Unless he was losing more than 4s per lap then he shouldn’t pit.

      1. I think the word is these tires can lose up to 5-6 seconds when they are over the “cliff.” So were talking 30 seconds, if you can stay out of the gravel.

  6. How about that 4th pit stop being a result of a RR tire being damaged by Alonso’s hit on lap 46?
    Also, maybe I’m wrong, but on the replay of that incident from Hamilton’s car it sure sounded like he backed off of the throttle just before he was hit.
    And, lastly, I see no reason whatsoever for the penalties issued to the two drivers. Perhaps the FIA should issue the stewards joy-sticks and let them drive the cars by remote control.

    1. Did you also realise that the camera went to slo mo when “hamilton backed off”?

  7. i felt the 1st stop that he did for hard tyres was a bit too early. his laptimes weren’t dropping when he pitted. he should’ve waited outside longer.

  8. In the interview Button seemed to say that the team thought that both tires would have roughly equal pace over a stint, so the soft tire deficit was not a concern for Hamilton, it would seem, until they went on the car. Well, they got that wrong, massively. They obviously did not know that the set up made the car terrible on the hard tires. This puts the team’s and Hamilton’s mistake in strategy in a different light, possibly harsher.

    And the early stop to jump Heidfeld was a curse in disguise and made the situation even worse. They got by Heidfeld, but left themselves too short to get to the end with the performance they could get from the hard tire. Even with these two negative situations, coming so early for stop #2 was still the proximate cause of this catastrophe. (not sure which stop is at issue from the title here). He was catching Vettel and probably could have gone longer than him as well.

    As far as overall race pace comparison, we should not overlook that Hamilton was massively held up by Heidfeld in stint one. But of course, that is his fault for getting passed at the start, and that’s how the cookie crumbled. This is not to knock Button, he drove a great race.

    As far as the final stop choice, that is a non issue. He couldnt even keep it on the track at that point.

    1. Precisely, the early stop to jump Heidfeld was what ruined the race. Because he ended up having to go past cars after each stop which would not have left his tyres in a good shape, despite that there was still plenty of life left in both sets of softs.
      Mclaren dropped the ball twice, the third time was the final blow.
      It defies belief that the team expected him to stay out on those horrible sets of tyres.

      The choice to come in for a late stop was the right one, at least it proves without doubt that the previous sets of tyres he was using were at fault and neither was it his driving nor the car.

      Mclaren left it late for Hamilton to try and make it into Q3 hence the mistake that flat spotted the tyres. They tried to see if he could make it using hards, when they spotted that wouldn’t work, the should have sent him out on the softs earlier rather than waiting till the very last minute.

  9. Basically..
    **** happens. Roll on China

  10. No mention of Hamilton lapping similar times to Button in the third stint despite being on hards to Jensons softs?

    Nor of the pit blunder that cost him 4 seconds and the place to Button?

    How about the fact that his stillborn second set of hards were not a new set?

    Or his damaged diffuser after the Alonso incident?

    Plenty of missing but significant information adds explanation to Hamiltons race.

    1. No mention of Hamilton lapping similar times to Button in the third stint despite being on hards to Jensons softs?

      See the chart.

      Nor of the pit blunder that cost him 4 seconds and the place to Button?

      Last paragraph.

      No idea what you mean by ‘stillborn’ in this context.

      Hamilton did have a damaged diffuser after the contact with Alonso, but he was in trouble long before then.

      1. I see the chart, I think it’s significant enought to be mentioned though.

        You got me on the pit stop Keith, I’ll give you that one!

        His second set of hards were already used and evidently had seen their best before they went on the car during the race. This is also a significant factor.

        1. Why don’t you start your own blog and spend hours analysing these things and doing write ups then? Not many sites have this many write-ups this quickly and only one person writing them. This is Keiths full-time job.

          Keith works hard, I get really annoyed when people pick tiny little problems up, ok correct a spelling or grammar mistake, but come on give him a break.

          1. How do you know I don’t already?

            Maybe you should contribute to the site with something of substance.

        2. Hewis Lamilton
          12th April 2011, 18:09

          Just curious, who used the second set of hard tires you are referring to? Each team is given the same number of tires per race weekend, I don’t see how you can use the set of tires being “used” as an excuse for Hamilton.

          1. Regarding the second set of hards, here is a graphic representation of how bad they were – from the moment they went on the car.

            Button vs Hamilton

  11. Monumental cock-up on Hamiltons part! Grrr

    1. No, Massa and Alonso would have caught him on-track anyway.

      Despite what the article says he was in 5th before the extra stop, as Webber