F1: Hamilton’s ‘inspirational’ 2011 Korean Grand Prix drive
LEWIS Hamilton’s Formula 1 team boss has hailed the McLaren driver’s performance in Korea as “inspirational”.
After a miserable run of results, Hamilton got his career back on track around the Korea International Circuit at Yeongam.
The 26-year-old motor racer from Hertfordshire returned to the podium in the 2011 Korean Grand Prix, finishing runner-up to Red Bull’s double FIA world champion Sebastian Vettel.
Although failing to convert his pole position into race victory, Hamilton kept Mark Webber’s much faster Red Bull at bay for half the race, no mean feat with a McLaren MP4-26 hampered by a problem to its front wing.
As the F1 circus now heads towards India for the first time, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team principal Martin Whitmarsh has praised Hamilton’s second place in South Korea.
Hamilton played down his achievement afterwards, but Whitmarsh felt the Stevenage-born racer’s drive under intense pressure bore the hallmarks of a “great champion”.
Speaking in Korea after the grand prix, Whitmarsh said: “I think Lewis’ drive today was utterly inspirational.
“He may be downplaying it, because he’s a perfectionist and he wanted to win, but to withstand such enormous pressure, for lap after lap, from a faster car, was a drive absolutely worthy of the great champions.”
Of the 2008 F1 world champion, Whitmarsh added: “His finishing position may only go down in the history books as another second place, but, make no mistake, this was a fantastic drive; beautifully assured and perfectly judged.
"I think Lewis’ drive was utterly inspirational."
“To cap it all, the data showed that he was losing a significant amount of downforce from his front wing.
“After the race, we inspected Lewis’s front-wing and discovered that the left-hand slot-gap had become filled with congealed tyre rubber, doubtless a result of the marbles on the track.
“As a result, he was suffering with masses of understeer, which further hurts the tyres.
“In the circumstances, his was an absolutely fantastic drive because it would have been all too easy to have gone backwards when faced with such massive, and constant, pressure.”
"I really hope we can carry our continued momentum through the next three races. It feels good to be back."
Whitmarsh also reserved praise for Hamilton’s team-mate Jenson Button, who finished fourth on Sunday.
He said: “Equally, Jenson posted another brilliant, measured drive.
“On Jenson’s car, too, we discovered after the race that he was also hurting from damage to his car – caused by a rock hitting the front-wing.
“The resulting understeer doubtless also impaired Jenson’s ability to close down Mark [Webber] in the track’s final sector, and therefore meant he was unable to mount a sustained attack in the DRS zone and secure third.
FIA Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship
1 Sebastian Vettel 349 points
2 Jenson Button 222
3 Fernando Alonso 212
4 Mark Webber 209
5 Lewis Hamilton 196
6 Felipe Massa 98
7 Nico Rosberg 67
8 Michael Schumacher 60
“Nevertheless, today [Sunday] showed that we have a very good racing car.
“But, more importantly, it showed that we have two brilliant racing drivers, who will fight from the start of the race to the end and who will never give up.”
The F1 season reaches its climax with the inaugural Indian Grand Prix at Greater Noida on Sunday, October 30, the 2011 Abu Dhabi GP around the Yas Marina circuit on November 13 and the Brazilian race at Interlagos a fortnight later on November 27.
McLaren supremo Whitmarsh added: “There are three races remaining in 2011 – and I know I speak for everyone when I say we want to win all three.”
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