F1: Silverstone inquest for McLaren after poor 2012 British Grand Prix pace
PUBLISHED: 20:20 08 July 2012 | UPDATED: 09:04 11 July 2012
RED Bull and Ferrari outclassed Lewis Hamilton's Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team in the 2012 British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Mark Webber took the chequered flag for Red Bull today (Sunday), having overtaken Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso with four laps to go.
Reigning F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel was third for Red Bull.
But it was a miserable afternoon in front of 125,000 passionate Silverstone fans for Hertfordshire-born F1 racer Lewis Hamilton and McLaren teammate Jenson Button. Hamilton, 27, crossed the finish line a disappointing eighth, two places ahead of Button.
Having failed to improve on his place on the starting grid, the McLaren pitwall said to Hamilton: “Tough race, Lewis. You gave it your all and the car wasn’t quick enough. We need to make some improvements.”
After finishing just inside the points, Button said over the radio: “Thanks guys. The car wasn’t quick enough today, but the pitstops were very good, so cheers for that.”
Speaking afterwards in the Silverstone paddock, Hamilton said: “It wasn’t a great race for me – I just wish we could have done more for the fans today.
“We tried as hard as we could, but we simply didn’t have the pace this afternoon.”
The Stevenage-born racer briefly led the race after preserving his first set of Prime tyres for more than 20 laps.
He bravely defended the lead from Alonso, who was on fresh rubber, before eventually dropping back to second.
“My tyres were still good at the end of my first stint, and I was able to hang on to Fernando [Alonso],” said Hamilton.
“So it’s hard to understand how we could be leading the race at one point and then fall back to eighth place, especially as our car doesn’t feel bad overall.”
He added: “I raced my heart out and was flat-out right to the end. We’re still in the hunt for the world championship – and, if we can find a bit of lap-time, we can stay in the hunt, too.”
As for his post-race treat for the spectators, he said: “I gave the fans a little donut on the slow-down lap – simply because I wanted to say thank-you to everyone who came out to watch us here today.
“I’d love to have done better in my home Grand Prix, but, regardless, the fans were fantastic throughout the weekend.”
Button said of his performance: “It was good to get a point in my Grand Prix, but of course that’s not what we ought to be doing: we’re a front-running team and we’ve got a bit of work to do to start running at the front again.
“I don’t think we made any mistakes with our strategy today; we’re just not quite quick enough at the moment, that’s all.”
"We tried as hard as we could, but we simply didn’t have the pace this afternoon."
That neither McLaren driver was unable to compete with Ferrari and Red Bull at Silverstone will be a matter of concern for team officials.
Martin Whitmarsh, the team principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, admitted today’s fine weather caught them by surprise after qualifying’s torrential rain.
“A dry race wasn’t what we were expecting – and, undoubtedly, had it been a wet race, as was predicted, our competitiveness relative to that of our opposition would have been significantly enhanced,” said Whitmarsh.
“Lewis drove an excellent stint on his initial set of Prime tyres, making consistent progress throughout the first third of the race.
“Thereafter, with hindsight, perhaps we should have given him more laps on his Options, because, from the very beginning of his third stint, he was never happy with his second set of Primes.
“For Jenson, the 2012 Santander British Grand Prix was always going to be a bit of a struggle, starting it as he did from 16th place on the grid.
“Again, as with Lewis, had it rained earlier this afternoon [rather than only after the race had ended], as it did yesterday and on Friday, and as it was forecast also to do today, undoubtedly he’d have been able to make up more places, more quickly, than in the event he did.
“As it was, he earned a single world championship point for his efforts, which was meagre reward for a pretty gutsy performance.”
Whitmarsh admitted improvements were needed before the 2012 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim – the home race of McLaren’s engine suppliers Mercedes-Benz.
He said: “We’ll go back to Woking, to the McLaren Technology Centre, with a determination to work as hard as is humanly possible to develop our car such that we can put on a fine and competitive show in the homeland of the famous three-pointed star.”