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Whitmarsh explains away McLaren drivers’ overtake confusion
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Whitmarsh explains away McLaren drivers’ overtake confusion
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Jun 2010   |  10:55 am GMT  |  101 comments

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has dismissed the misunderstanding between his drivers at the end of the Turkish Grand Prix, saying that when Lewis Hamilton was told that Jenson Button would not pass him, this was an engineer’s “opinion”, rather than a team policy.


Speaking in a Vodafone teleconference with the leading websites, he also said that in the new style F1 racing, it is hard to know when – or indeed if – to stop drivers from racing each other in the interests of the team.

In the closing stages of the race Hamilton was told to save fuel, Button likewise. Hamilton took it fairly easy, thinking that they were driving, rather than racing, to the finish. When Button closed on him he said, “Jenson’s closing in on me, you guys. If I back off, is Jenson going to pass me or not?”

The team replies: “No, Lewis. No.”

Whitmarsh says that this was the opinion of chief engineer Phil Prue, rather than the statement of a team decision. Perhaps this misunderstanding arose because McLaren is still cautious about crossing the FIA, even though Max Mosley is no longer president, and did not want it’s fuel saving instruction to be construed as a team order, which would be prohibited under F1 rules.

“Shortly after he was told that Jenson wouldn’t overtake him, Jenson did overtake him, ” said Whitmarsh. “Phil gave an opinion. It turned out his opinion was wrong. They are both racing drivers, they had a challenge in that race. The race was quicker for the Red Bulls and McLarens than expected so we were consuming more fuel than we needed to.

“It wasn’t expected that Lewis would lift as much as he did in Turn 8. For Jenson who is a racing driver, when he saw quite a big lift in Turn 8 he thought it was his opportunity and made the pass.”

There is still plenty of confusion about how the incident occurred with McLaren engineer Tim Goss saying that the drivers were given identical lap times to stick to, while Button says he was not given any specifics.

Whitmarsh added that teams which let their drivers race each other are going to face the problem of what to do with drivers in a 1-2 situation when drivers have to save fuel. In the refuelling era, it was generally accepted that the team mates could race until the final pit stop and then hold station, but with only one early stop in most races and drivers saving different amounts of fuel, the prospect for some exciting racing late in the event certainly exists. But as Red Bull proved and McLaren almost proved, it can have disastrous consequences.

“There is a dilemma at the end of a race about how hard you can race, ” said Whitmarsh. “We had it amply demonstrated that a team and drivers can get that wrong. But there is no doubt that both of our drivers want to win.”

So it seems that for the moment there is no rule controlling drivers in the closing stages of the race.

Whitmarsh added that this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix should suit the McLaren more than the Red Bull team. However rain is forecast for the weekend and there are plenty of pitfalls. It is one of the hardest races of the season on brakes, for example, and with the cars starting the race on full tanks, managing brakes will be vital.

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101 Comments
  1. Owen Li says:

    I’m still confused

    1. Slowflow says:

      Sorry Martin I just don’t buy that explanation.

      We know the history between the Hamilton’s & Whitmarsh.

      We know Hamilton is out of contract at the end of this season (and also currently manager-less) he is currently earning £18 mil, Jenson on the other hand is earning £8-10 mil as the reigning WC!

      What’s the bet that Whitmarsh, is trying to ‘engineer’ Button finishing the season ahead of Lewis on points, so as to claw back the extra £8-10 Mil when/if they renegotiate the contract?

      This is the sole reason for the race engineer switch.

      1. Pranav says:

        err…lewis has a contract till 2012…get your facts right mate before engaging in mindless speculation..

      2. Nick H says:

        What a load of twaddle.
        As Pranav points out Hamilton has a contract till 2012 so thats your conspiricy theory in the tyre wall.

      3. Monji says:

        Forget the years, he’s still right about Martin

      4. kbdavies says:

        Slow flow is right about one thing.
        This was certainly no mistake from Phil, and moreover, Phil Prew is NOT Hamilton’s engineer (Andy Leatham is), he is the PRINCIPAL ENGINEER for the whole team. This means that NO decision is taken regarding both drivers in the race without Phil’s knowledge. Subsequently, he would have known the lap delta time given to Lewis, and if any was given to Jenson or not. He would also have known that Lewis’s lap time would mean he would be overtaking by Jenson -(Jenson says he wasnt given a lap time, his engineer – Goss, says he was given same one as Lewis)
        Anyone who believes this confusion, from McLaren, the most professionally run team in F1, must be on crack!

        McLaren are in damage limitation mode. I believe they tried to engineer a Button win, and tried to make it look like racing between teammates. They knew Lewis would not let Jenson through a la team orders.

        As i have asserted before, it makes more sense for Jenson to win, as it would mean McLaren would be leading both championships(Drivers by 5 points). Lewis’s win only brings him to 3rd, whilst Jenson is 2nd. A less ideal situation.

        Bringing Phil into the picture only serves to show that they are really trying hard to shift the focus off the suspected favouritism for Button that this issue has highlighted. By shifting the blame unto a scapegoat, they think it will silence the naysayers.

        Unfortunately, they have not done a good job of it.
        Question is – why would Martin wait all this time to bring this to light? Why wasnt this mentioned in previous interview regarding the incident? Why are they releasing snippets of info almost on a daily basis? Why would Phil Prew give an “opinion”, to a driver in the race, that is not in synergy with what the team thinks?

        McLaren are simply reacting to the public response. I dont know why people find it hard to believe that Martin favours Jenson, and he would like him to win the WDC over Lewis. There are many well documented reason for this.

  2. Gilles says:

    “So it seems that for the moment there is no rule controlling drivers in the closing stages of the race.”
    I see this as a good thing and hopefully, it stays that way as it is as it should be.

  3. McLaren have went well at Montreal in the past but this season they like to run the car very stiff, will that be difficult to do at Canada where riding the kerbs is so important?

  4. Andrew Watson says:

    New style F1 era. It is because there are lots of drivers from GP2 competing this year which adds to the excitement this lot seem to battle for position look at the way Hamilton has battled with Petrov and Kubica overtakes and reovertakes – exciting stuff ! Lots more overtaking better for us armchair enthusiasts

  5. craig sylvester says:

    i do trully believe that during a race the drivers should have the right to race their team mates as they would any other driver as they are all trying for the championship. where the dilema comes into play is the fact that they are also racing for the constructors championship as well so this is what confuses the situation. so in fairness they have to race to the end for themselves while giving their team mates a fair amount of space, inevitably there will be comings together but this doesn’t happen to often so the teams and drivers are doing a great job of it so far. i personaly think there’s nothing much to change.

  6. pgj says:

    This is another prime example of why car/pit radio should be banned. Drivers behave like children who need to be told what to do. It is a crazy situation. Who is driving the car? Is it the driver or a team of engineers and computers?

    In many respects, a driver is a remote control device for making adjustments to the car that are being dictated by engineers or computers. If a driver cannot detect that an adjustment needs to be made through his own senses them he should not have to make the adjustment. There is a whole skill-set that a driver no longer needs in order to get his car home. The skill of nursing a car has long gone with the driver blindly making any adjustments that he is instructed to make without question.

    There have been miles of column inches written about overtaking and the lack of it. One of the major factors is that decision making has become so perfect that mistakes are almost too rare to count. Ban car/pit radio and put the control of the car back into the drivers hands. Let the driver be the sole arbiter for decision making about the car and its performance.

    1. Neal Rayner says:

      I agree with this 100% pgj.

    2. Phil Curry says:

      Yes, so the driver is supposed to be aware of how much fuel the engine is using, how much there is left, how much they need to save, then the best engine mapping program to allow them to save it, at the same time as knowing how worn the brakes are, the temperatures of the tyres so they know how safe it is to push, and all this while knowing of dangers on the circuit, yellow flags, red flags, safety cars. Then to add to this, they have to know what lap is what, when they want to pit, and the pit stops have to be determined by the team, as the driver cannot tell the pit wall if the tyres are worn, or that they need to stop for repairs, no the team needs a sixth sense for that.

      You can’t ban the radio, this is modern day F1, drivers need it for a whole host of reasons. Yes the teams inform the drivers of the best way to save fuel, which maps to use etc. This is modern era F1, where the cars are a bunch of wires held together by complex bodywork designed to allow for speed. In the days gone by, there was no such thing as engine mapping adjustments. the drivers wore leather helmets and raced around rough tracks in little more than aluminium tubes with four wheels sticking out.

      Yes I’d like to see the driver do more, but taking away the radio opens up a whole new host of problems. Let’s not forget Jenson made two very good tatical calls, which he couldn’t have done without the radio.

    3. Richard says:

      Wow, I’ve never heard that before. Sounds like an excellent idea.

    4. Galapago555 says:

      I fully agree with you. Let’s ban radio communications during the race, and I bet that everything would change into a more exciting way.

    5. fausta says:

      100% agree

    6. Mattij says:

      Great idea, pgj!

      Phil Curry: IF all those engine maps, etc, really are necessary to have in the sport, sure they can put them in the ‘dashboards’ of the steering wheels for driver to control.

      With the new blinking warning panels in addition to flags, maybe it is not a safety issue either.

      James, you have some good arguments for keeping the radios?

      1. James Allen says:

        Well they add a lot to the entertainment value when we hear extracts on the TV coverage

      2. I agree with James. They do add lots of entertainment value

      3. Lee says:

        It adds a lot of entertainment value? Really, some of the radio messages are dull, boring and hard to understand. If it means teams like McLaren and Red Bull can manipulate a race outcome on highly competitive drivers who have the right to fight for the title, then I see no use in them at all, banned the radio’s, it would be far more interesting watching drivers race without it, because it would bring F1 back to the state of raw talent.

      4. mtb says:

        If the radio communication did not take place, the teams could still use cryptic information on the lap boards.

    7. Keith says:

      I’ve always likened F1 to Test cricket; it’s complexity is a large part of its spectacle. If you want pure driver racing thills watch the touring cars. Similarly if you want to see a ball thumped out of the stand watch 20:20.
      Taking away the pit radio may change a race by increasing the possibility of driver error but reduces the pleasure of playing all the subtle moves that go together to make a successful F1 team.

  7. Michael SW20 says:

    Lewis seemed a little put out at the end of the Turkish GP. Maybe a less critical eye would have interpreted his demeanour as subdued.

    Nevertheless, I think that Lewis is realising that Jenson is a serious and hungry contender who has demanded and earned the respect of the team.

    So having won his first race of the season, why the long face? Could it be that he interpreted the overtake as McLaren stacking the odds in the favour of the reigning World Champion, who had already taken their first two wins of the season? If so, then a psychological battle is already being waged and the man with the celebrity girlfriend is already on the back foot.

    As a footnote, I would like to add that JB is a ruthless proponent of overtaking when called upon to do so. Less dramatic that Lewis’ possible, but certainly as decisive and skilful – the overtake on Schumi demonstrated that quite clearly. I don’t think that he gets the credit he deserves.

    mt

    1. AndrewJ says:

      Well said.

      I think it’s good to see some competition in one of the top teams and if there’s going to be a psychological battle to stir things up then bring it on.

      McLaren has the two most recent world champions in its cars and as they have always stated (whether or not we believed them) both drivers are treated equally and given equal opportunity to race until there comes a point where there’s a clear leader and it’s strategically important for the constructors championship to take a more tactical approach.

      Neither driver should be expecting to be favoured either, even if Jenson was to feel it was his right as champion or Lewis was to feel it because he’s established at the team. The Schuey-at-Ferrari era demonstrated amply how dull an effect that can have on things (and no, I don’t doubt Michael’s talent for one second, but it would have been nice to see him have a team-mate who was allowed to race him on a regular basis).

      I’m looking forward to the rest of this season with some serious competition between team-mates at Red Bull, McLaren and (to a lesser extent) Ferrari and Mercedes.

    2. Mickey says:

      Overtaking MSC of the straight part of the circuit isn’t that difficult.

      1. Truth says:

        If you are referring to the fact the Maclaren is faster in a straight line, than the Merc taht MSC drives, then agree. Otherwise I’d prefer not to read biased nonsense like that.

    3. mtb says:

      Lewis did sound a touch paranoid when Button was getting closer. I am not sure that he is on the back foot though – just look at the way that he reclaimed his position! It was very clear who the no.2 at McLaren is.

      1. Michael SW20 says:

        I see it as a tussle that worked in Lewis’ favour, but certainly not defining of either’s relative abilities.

        I suppose that the question shall be settled on track!

      2. TM says:

        No i agree with mtb on his last bit;
        - JB overtakes LH when LH thought they weren’t racing.
        - LH then overtakes JB when they’re both racing.
        To me it’s pretty clear cut which of those is more difficult.

      3. Ginger says:

        He sounded a little wary but then when he said ‘if I back off etc’ he sounded more commanding.

        Lets face it he wasn’t going to let JB get away with it.

        Whilst I was impressed with JB, again Lewis was quicker over the race weekend.

        Another 1-2 in that order this weekend…..

      4. Bevan says:

        Agreed,& lets not forget who actually applied the pressure to the Redbulls for 90% of the event causing SV’s catastrophic error,MW & SV would have waltzed into a Redbull 1-2 had we waited for anything from Button.Words are just that but there was no hiding the body language LH displayed on the podium,he was peeved.I’m still waiting to hear the radio transmissions from JB’s end.What happened during the pitstop left rear tyre change,why did Whitmarsh bring LH in at the same time as MW,defying all logic,& I don’t say this in hindsight.I’d say trust would be at an all time low between the # 2 McLaren & the team at the moment,forget the PR garbage we’ve heard so far.Bring big Ron back I say,its just one bungle after another since Whitmarsh took the helm.

  8. Henry says:

    All a little circumspect I think…No wonder Hamilton looked so down on the podium; there will be tension in the top two teams come Canada, I’m expecting an exciting race!

  9. kowalsky says:

    the situation is the same as at red bull. The reason why they didn’t crash, it was hamilton skills. Button thought hamilton will put himself out of the race, braking on the dirty side. How he managed to do it. I am sure button made himself that question.

    1. **Paul** says:

      ?? Hamilton hit Buttons car though! That’s not skill it’s luck and desperation… luck he didn’t take Jenson off, luck he didn’t damage his suspension and desperation that his team mate had just passed him. A more forceful driver wouldn’t have let Lewis repass at all and taken them both off, but Jenson knew it was Lewis. it’s largely thanks to Button there was no Red Bull Mk2…

      1. Monji says:

        You’va just defined skill :-), agree Hamilton’s HOT

    2. AndrewJ says:

      I think you’re showing a little favouritism here – the cars made contact in that last side-by-side corner. It was the skills of both drivers that meant that neither crashed out.

    3. mtb says:

      There was contact.

  10. Jon says:

    I smelled a rat, straight away during the race, and then also with the BBC red button forum, and especiially Lewis’s interview during the show.

    I believe Whitmarsh though. I think he is being pretty honest here. The only thing he doesn’t mention is that I think it’s a pretty unspoken rule with most teams that “saving fuel” means holding positions and nursing the car home until the end of the race. I believe that is why his opinion was wrong. Because Button wouldn’t settle for that.

    Any team that has two competitive drivers and are being pushed hard by another team will have issues. I just hope they are consistant and fair to both drivers. If they are.. game on.

    I agree with pgj in that there is too much micro management in F1, and it gets in the way of proper racing.

    I don’t know if banning pit to car radio is the answer, it’s very extreme, but it would solve the problem and improve the racing greatly.

    Despite all of the turbulance and aerodynamic and circuit problems in F1 that hinder overtaking..

    Two things that would immediately improve the racing would be banning pit radio, and tightening up the blocking rules. The drivers in F1 are allowed to block so aggressively. If the blocking rules were more strict, drivers would have more chance of making a move stick. There are a few drivers that are so good defensively, that it’s virtually impossible to overtake them, even if they are much slower. It’s a skill. Good for them. But it’s a skill that hinders exciting racing.

    1. speedy_bob says:

      “The drivers in F1 are allowed to block so aggressively.”

      Seriously? One little wave and even Martin Brundle is saying it’s too dangerous (Hamilton-Petrov).
      If anything, F1 does not allow much blocking imo.
      Agreed, Indycar accepts not even 1 linechange, but it should be a skill to pass.
      Tricking the driver in front to make the only linechange he’s allowed to, and then pass him, is not racing to me.

      It’s way too easy.
      I’m in favour of blocking as much as you can. If the guy wants to pass you, he’d better plan it skilfully.

      Of course, I also advocate (see the debate some weeks ago about less gripy tires) the possibility of different lines through corners.

      Hamilton weaving on Petrov: I did not see any problem with that. Not at all.
      Having to hear you cannot do it, sounds in my ears as if you’er not allowed to race properly.

      1. Jon says:

        Why not just attach machine guns to the side of the cars, so they can shoot anyone who tries to overtake them? Why have any penalties at all when they race? If you are going to allow everything, why not let them bash into each other, and even if it’s a chop.. if they are lucky enough to come out of it undamaged, why not let them fight it amongst themselves?

        Hamilton’s weave in Sepang was a joke. If you allowed that, you would never see overtaking in F1 ever. This from a sport, that is always changing the rules to have more overtaking.

        In any sport, you need to make the rules to find a balance between offense and defense. That’s what makes a match/fight/battle interesting.

        The problem is open wheelers, the odds are already so heavily stacked for the car infront. Due to the inevitable turbulance, the short braking zones, the high speeds, the circuits they race on etc etc.

        In tin tops, I would agree with you about the blocking.

        This is open wheelers, and adjusting the blocking rule, would be trying compensate for the turbulance that disturbs the car behind’s aero.

        If you had your way with the rules, no one would ever overtake.. ever. Unless the driver infront made a big mistake.

        It’d be like watching a game of football where the goal is the size of a shoebox. Every game would be 0-0. Why watch?

        There needs to be a balance between offense and defense. Already in F1, for a skilled defensive driver it’s virtually impossible to overtake them.

      2. Obbo says:

        “Hamilton’s weave in Sepang was a joke” I absolutely agree but not for your reason. Have you actually watched the video of the incident? In every case Hamilton initiated the move AND PETROV FOLLOWED HIM! This is not ‘blocking’ by any definition. Had Petrov moved off Hamilton’s line and Hamilton moved back in front of him THEN it would be blocking. You can’t block someone by moving out of their way. Petrov knew his only hope of passing was to keep the tow to the corner as he had before. He was trying to maintain the tow and Hamilton was trying to shake him. I’m all for safety but let’s use common sense rather than getting hide bound with an overburdened rule book that takes no account of the context.

      3. speedy_bob says:

        Obbo,
        Thanks for the necessary nuance I didn’t include. Hamilton idd. dind’t block since Petrov followed him.

        Jon: are you against weaving? If os? Why? It isn’t blocking(Petrov could have steered straight ahead).

    2. mtb says:

      A cynic would suggest that, now that the Red Bull situation has been analysed to death, McLaren were concerned that the focus would be shifted onto the actions of their drivers.

      Was Matt Bishop behind this “clarification”?

      1. Steve Mc says:

        Doubt it – there wasn’t enough excessively long words inserted just to show everyone that his vocabulary is (cue comedy Brum accent in the style of a Harry Enfield sketch) ‘considerably greater than yow’!

  11. James B says:

    The key question is what was said to Button before and after. My belief is it is clear that Lewis thinks the save fuel was to finish 1-2 and I am also convinced this is what Mclaren wanted.

    Button, I believe ignored this and what I want to know is was it a genuine misunderstanding or did Button ignore pre-determined team orders?

    1. david z says:

      Precisely!

      I think by Jenson’s body language straight after the race though, and how he hung back when told the fuel situation had become “critical” that his attack on Lewis was a genuine ‘misunderstanding.

  12. Irish conor says:

    Is it just me or it martin covering his ass so they can’t be done for team orders. Looking forward to Canada. Mclarens fast in straight line poor in slower corners and redbull the opposite. Also Ferrari mercedes and Renault are asgood as anybody in slow corners. Should be a good Saturday at the very least

  13. garyp says:

    I think JBs form has come as a huge shock to Lewis even though he defended JB to the press when everyone said Lewis would kick his a**. I think inside he thought the same.

    So when JB has more wins and points the ego starts looking for a “everyone is against me” conspiracy to justify it.

    I must admit I thought the same about the LH JB situation to and have been pleasantly suprised.

  14. Tim says:

    What are the differences in performance gain of saving fuel in the early stages of the race and losing front end grip in the tyres due to following someone?

    Will we get drivers following another in the early stages so that they have the extra performance towards the end of the race?

    Or will the loss of grip in the tyres from following another car mean that this performance gain will be negated?

  15. Steve Mc says:

    This excellent vid demonstrates how easy Lewis was taking it on the lap JB overtook, particularly through T8…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuKJhnBA64E

    The vid also shows that, if he thought he wasn’t racing JB before, he certainly realised prior to the braking zone of T12, and took up a defensive position in the middle of the track to force JB either to the outside or to take his chances on the inside, a la Vettel. Lewis’s throttle application out of the final corner suggests he was quite motivated to make the most of the run he had on JB to the first corner…

    My tuppence worth (if anybody is interested) is that team mates should be allowed to save/not save as much fuel as they want, and then be able to reap the rewards of whichever strategy they decide to make use of later in the race.

    Otherwise we may as well get Bernie to red flag every Grand Prix after three quarters’ distance if everyone is expected to hold station once they’ve burned all their fuel prematurely in the first 10-20 laps.

    One final point; Am I the only person who sees the logic in teams actually carrying that extra 1.5 kilos or so of fuel, that James mentioned in a previous post about fuel saving, to start off with? I may well be being naive, but surely a deficiency of a tenth a lap for 20 laps will more than be offset by the fact that the other guys will have to knock 2secs a lap off their pace with about 15 laps to go, and your man with the extra fuel won’t?

    I just don’t understand the logic. But that is probably why I don’t have a glamorous and highly paid job in F1!

    1. Nick F says:

      Great vid. I hadn’t seen that. Thanks for posting the link.

      I agree that with you that it would be more exciting to let team mates race and manage their own fuel. I think though that they have to know that is what is going on from the beginning or it isn’t exactly fair. I also think that a team would be crazy not to think about team orders in the situation where you are 1-2 and in a commanding lead. Letting your drivers stress the engines and gear boxes they have to use multiple times and allowing them to race and possibly hit each other like the Redbulls is not smart. It’s good for the fans, but what is the up side to the team?

    2. Axu says:

      “[...] if he thought he wasn’t racing JB before, he certainly realised prior to the braking zone of T12, and took up a defensive position in the middle of the track [...]”

      Excellent observation, including Lewis’ throttle aplying out of the final corner.

      I think it’s worthy of being noted, too, that there was a shade of a drizzle (as one can see on the shot from Jenson’s camera) in those laps, especially in the final corners.
      Maybe Jenson also thought of testing Lewis for grip / braking on a damp track, for future reference :)

    3. Obbo says:

      I think this whole affair highlights the problem with the no-refueling rule.
      It may seem fair that drivers who play a tactical fuel saving game by lying back in a comfortable 3rd or 4th should be allowed to capitalise on this at the end, but where does this lead? The guys out in front using more fuel battling for the lead, and therefore providing the spectacle and excitement we want, are then expected to move over to accommodate their less adventurous team-mates who then take the points and the plaudits for their ‘maturity’ and ‘tactical awareness’.
      Webber and Hamilton battling it out for the lead generated all the excitement and interest for most of the Turkish GP before the final laps. Some would have it that they were foolishly using up more fuel and, in Hamiltons case, betraying his ‘immaturity’ in contrast to the ‘wiser head’ of Button.
      What do we want to encourage, racing or an economy drive? If all drivers become ‘tactically aware’ and the teams continue to rely on absolutely minimal fuelling then, taking it to it’s logical conclusion, F1 could end up as a fuel economy contest rather than a racing spectacle.

  16. Luca says:

    it just cracks me up that the rules and points have been changed in order to encourage people race to the line, yet it doesn’t seem to have happened really….

    With the pecking order being what it is, now we see internal agreements within the teams meaning you can race for the first 15 laps then once you’ve pitted thats it?!
    Ferrari may have been very bold in the way (in the past) about how they manage the drivers positions for the ‘right’ finish, but its just as bad nowadays with the way the teams still massage the finishing order.

    There seems for as much as they like to tell us how the drivers are free to race, really, there is very little evidence to suggest this is true, if not the complete opposite.

  17. richie675 says:

    I think JB summed it up pretty well on the BBC in a line that the press seems to have missed -”If ‘save fuel’ means ‘don’t race’, well nobody told me!”

    I think Phil Prew and the McLaren pitwall would have expected the race to continue as-was, in terms of positions, but Button took the opportunity when the situation presented itself. I wondered if the re-overtake by Hamilton was because he turned the wick up on his engine mix / revs to counteract Jenson’s move – any thoughts James?

  18. James says:

    Whether or not this is the case, I felt that from Hamilton’s body language after the race that he felt like he had been told that Button wouldn’t pass him, and not couldn’t. Implying that at the very least, Hamilton felt like there was some team orders in place? Why would he think that, if the team doesn’t use team orders? Maybe the management should explain to him that team orders are banned and that he should never have to ask whether his team mate is going to pass him, and should always assume that he will attempt to. Right? Hamilton asked a specific question to a team with NO team orders, and yet was very surprised and almost upset when Button attempted to pass him.

    1. Obbo says:

      I don’t think Lewis thought there were team orders per se. Rather I think he thought (as I and others did at the time) the phrase “It’s the same for both cars” meant that Jenson was in the same situation with fuel as he was and the team were advising both to back off to make sure of finishing. He sought confirmation of this by asking the ‘Will JB pass me’ question, in effect asking whether JB had been given a similar lap time target in order to finish safely. He received the answer “No” meaning,as far as he was concerned, “He won’t because neither of you can afford the fuel to race each other to the finish” so he backed off to the recommended lap time.
      What JB was told or not told remains a mystery but we are left with the situation of MacLaren looking as if they were attempting to play favourites or else being monumentally incompetent in their communications. Not great choices for as Macca fan but I for one would prefer it to be the latter!

  19. Liam says:

    Mountain out of a mole hill really… Lewis slowed way too much through turn 8 and Button took the opportunity as he should do! Hamilton would have done exactly the same.

  20. jonrob says:

    New instruction to drivers:-

    “Fuel ok, save brakes!” :-)
    “Lewis, Jensen will not outbrake you!” :-) (“Did he really? Well that was just an opinion!”)
    :-)

  21. C Pitter says:

    There is something nasty going on at McLaren. Prew was quite categorical about saying no while asking Lewis to slow down. It seems to me they want Button to win over Lewis and are doing it unfairly. Did they imagine the radio transmissions wouldn’t come to light? I would love to see Button’s – if Tim Goss said they were given identical target lap times, either Button is a liar and he thought the only way to sneak past Lewis was when he was slowing and not defending, OR Goss was lying and they never gave Button target lap times like they gave Lewis, thus making it easier to pass Lewis.

    My advice to Lewis would be “watch your back mate, you will have to race twice as hard as your blue-eyed teammate because you keep getting miscommunications, weird strategies and botched pitstops.” Even Heikki would prevail over Lewis if it was engineered that way like they are trying to engineer it for Button.

    1. Steve Mc says:

      The thing is; the lap time that was instructed (whether it was to one or both of the drivers is immaterial) was apparently 1 min 31 secs, which they were both doing (give or take a half a sec or so) for 4 or 5 laps prior to the lap that JB overtook. The issue is the fact that Lewis, on the lap that he got overtaken, did a 1 min 33+ lap, whilst JB crossed the line in 1 min 31-ish – Lewis took it far too easy through Turn 8, and JB took his opportunity at the end of the straight in to T12.

      As for the re-pass, Lewis was able to get a run on him down to the first corner was because JB went too deep in to 13, after going around the outside of 12, and, therefore, was out of position for T14, whilst Lewis was able to take a more normal line through the final corner and benefit from the better exit that that gives. All’s well that ends well, in my opinion, and no conspiracy to speak of. Well, not one that I can see, anyway…

      The lesson I would suggest Lewis takes from Turkey is that, fuel saving or no fuel saving, expect a competitive racing driver to take every opportunity that is presented to him. Oh, and, never listen to a word your engineer tells you! :0)

    2. BeenDun says:

      So the team are treating Lewis much the same way they treated Alonso in 2007? Interesting idea.

  22. Roger Carballo AKA Architrion says:

    The only dilemma I can’t deal is if this is racing or drivers parade…. let’em race, for god’s sake!!!!

    I would call Whitmarsh’s explanations hipocrisy.

  23. Roger Carballo AKA Architrion says:

    And another point. No need to ban radio calls… just simply let them fully open. That’s all.

  24. Marcello says:

    I don’t believe a word that Withmarsh fellow is saying, the plan was for button to win the race. it didn’t work out, Lewis won, at least he now knows he is dealing with snakes. And I believe there’s a good reason why the FIA has decided to play the tape. Affaire a suivre.

    1. The Scrutineer's Cousin says:

      Exactly. It’s all ‘Ron Speak’ and spin. I thought Martin Whitmarsh was a better man than that.

      As you said, Lewis has now realised what he’s dealing with … and he can play by the same rules.

      Admittingly, I was Anti-Hamilton in his first year and thought he was receiving favoured treatment at McLaren. But this year, I am recognising that he is a true talent.

      1. Bello form Nigeria says:

        I totally agree with you mate.. He is a very amazing driver. He fought his way up into formula one tooth and nail with one the so called best drivers. He deserves much more than this.

  25. jonrob says:

    I think the rules should be changed to allow official team orders, it is after all a team sport.
    The army of design, development, test, etc engineers together with a room full of guys (worthy of a space shuttle launch) monitoring every aspect of the car’s performance parameters and reactions, all do their utmost to ensure both cars are at the zenith of possible performance, but then they have to hand them over to the drivers.
    Everything has been fine until the drivers got in the car, then immediately there are problems, things need adjusting, or break or leak or short out or overheat or simply wear out.
    Thus the rest of the team must be on tenterhooks the instant the driver takes their baby away and starts abusing it, going off track, picking up foreign bodies, knocking bits off.
    The least the team should be allowed is to give instructions to hold position after say 80% of race distance, at least this would avoid clashes of team mates such as we have seen recently and give the team some semblance of control over the drivers.

    1. Ian says:

      Thats not racing as I understand it

  26. CH1UNDA says:

    Once again just like Australia 2009 Whitmarsh has promptly found an engineer to blame! The last time he did that, somebody got fired so he should be careful with this blame thing – it can affect somebody’s career and family. However one has to take cognizance of the fact that the FIA video edits went as far as providing subtitles on the McLaren conversations suggesting that somebody is looking to stir trouble between McLaren and FIA? So its in the interests of all McLaren fans to accept Martin’s explanation at face value and move on.

    Best news is that the McLaren drivers in this new era are free to race – no more backing off by Lewis like in China. Hopefully the question of whether Button’s safety-first style stands upto Hamilton’s aggressive overtakes can be finally answered on the track rather than on blog posts!

    1. Clive says:

      i totally agree with this post let’s see who’s the best pound for pound at Mclaren and stop the talking.

    2. Steve Mc says:

      Lewis backed off in China?

  27. knoxploration says:

    Don’t believe it for a second. This is simply backpedaling, because they can’t admit they issued team orders.

    The one place you can guarantee won’t contain the truth is any public statement from McLaren. Their hand is forced by a lousy rule against something that’s a fundamental part of a team sport.

  28. ThePieman says:

    I agree that a wholesale ban on pit to car radio would be a bit extreme, but I certainly think that the idea has merit. Discussing what lap to pit on is one thing, but the pitwall instructing drivers to make brake balance adjustments, is another thing entirely and is something that I would like to see removed from the equation.
    As PGJ so elequently put – Let the driver be the sole arbiter for decision making about the car and its performance.

    1. Carl says:

      They don’t really need pit radios, they have pit boards.

      They banned radios in Moto GP and that’s just fine.

  29. JohnBt says:

    No big issue for McLaren, as a team it was a 1-2 finish, what more can you ask for?. Big issue for Lewis as team mate overtook him during save fuel orders. That’s complicated unless Jenson speaks up. For fans like myself, they were told not to race each other. Was hoping for them to push and watch the cars stall after crossing the finishing line. Then we’ll have 2 Professors. We need a thrilla!

  30. mtb says:

    Yet more spin from McLaren. Once again the blame has been shifted from one of the sollipsists who drive their cars to an overworked, underpaid employee who gives his all to the organisation.

    We saw at the Hungaroring in 2007 that Hamilton will ignore orders from the team if he feels that he has something to gain from doing so. In Turkey we were given a glimpse into the psyche of Button. (I have no doubt that the Button brigade will try to spin the latter comment to Jenson’s benefit.)

    I can imagine how the British media would be covering these events if the roles of Hamilton and Button had been reversed.

  31. James says:

    Whitmarsh is covering his butt. Of course there are no team orders, as in over the radio “Jens hold station, don’t pass Hamilton, you need to bring the car home as you are both low on fuel”. Whitmarsh said that chief engineer Phil Prue’s statement was an opinion, that’s how you get out of hot water with the FIA, you just call orders, “opinions”. That is laughable to anyone who’s been around F1 for awhile.

    I think Button knows how devoted Hamilton is to McLaren, after all it’s been a boyhood dream of his. Button on the other hand has no long term alliances with the team, he is in it for himself. So Button can say he didn’t get the orders to save fuel and stay on target with lap times, it doesn’t serve his purpose, to win at all costs.

    In the end Whitmarsh can attempt to explain all he wants, but for sure Hamilton no longer trusts Button. The question is, does the team feel the same way?

    1. mtb says:

      I was under the impression that Button said he was told to save fuel, but was not given target lap times.

      Overall you are right though. Why do so many British journalists put so little thought into the contents of McLaren press releases?

      1. James says:

        Not according to the quoted text from above.

        “There is still plenty of confusion about how the incident occurred with McLaren engineer Tim Goss saying that the drivers were given identical lap times to stick to, while Button says he was not given any specifics.”

        Looks like Button may be telling stories out of school? For sure the Canadian GP will be interesting.

  32. Carlos says:

    I don’t think the team order rule should have ever been put in place. The backlash from Austria 2002 was already sufficient to prevent future blatant incident like that. Forms of team orders have always occurred and teams will make up excuses in order to enforce them anyways. Furthermore, team orders are probably desired in certain situations like if one driver needs to move over to secure the WDC.
    Although it would be nice to see more overtaking and racing among teammates, I honestly think it should be the team’s decision on how to manage this issue.

    1. Carl says:

      It is a team sport and in the grand scheme of thing the Drivers’ Championship means nothing, it’s just a side show. It is the Constructors title that is the most important and determines the teams payout from the F1

  33. EM says:

    There’s one part of the f1.com race edit that hasn’t been mentioned much and that is when Jenson is alongside racing Lewis he’s told very sternly to ‘save fuel Jenson’. Looks very like code for ‘don’t race lewis’.

    Jenson then backs off for the rest of the race. My thoughts were he was told not to overtake Lewis, keep a safe 1-2 and bring it home. However when he saw the opening he went for it, maybe because he’s just a racer but mostly just to show Lewis, the team and us that he could.

  34. Curro says:

    What a pile of b*s*. Bring back team orders, at least everyone would know what’s going on.

    Team orders were specifically banned at a time of blatant abuse of them by one team in particular (Ferrari) at the expense of one of their drivers (Barrichello). That’s not the case anymore with the strong driver pairings we have now.

  35. Scooby says:

    Lewis Hamilton, pls bring your dad back into the paddock am pleaaadding! cos trust me you are all alone in there. its not too late to say dad i was wrong. weve not heard the last of this rumble. i see trouble ahead at mclaren!

  36. D. says:

    Lewis is going to walk Montreal. I don’t care if RBR bring an F-Duct or whatever -Duct they want. McLaren was clearly faster in Turkey in race configuration. There is no way they will not be at least 3 tenths per lap quicker than RBR on the island. In fact, I suspect Ferrari might be as quick if not quicker than RBR here (and I also wuold not discount Mercedes).

  37. malcolm.strachan says:

    This reminds me a little of San Marino, 1982. The drivers are told to save fuel, the following driver overtakes… except this one ended with the original leading driver winning and only feeling slightly put-out, rather than being beaten and feeling betrayed.

    I hope this doesn’t play out in a similar fashion… but I am sure McLaren will be doing all they can to calm any rough waters.

  38. Richard says:

    I have a simple solution to end all this speculation about what various radio messages may or may not mean. Ban the use of pit to car radio altogether! Leave the driver to drive the car and make his own decisions. On things like fuel management, some form of display should be given so that the driver can make his mind up on whether or not to adopt fuel saving modes.

  39. Nic Maennling says:

    Teams screw up quite often. It is interesting to read how they now explain the actual event !

  40. Steve Smith says:

    Seems like a good case for reintroducing fuelling during races? Perhaps banning re-fuelling has been a bit of an own goal by the FIA?

    How can drivers be expected to race if they are told to conserve fuel?

    Although drivers are required to look after their tyres during a race, at least they can pit to change them if required.

    Maybe they should be using diesel engines! Perhaps Toyota could re-enter F1 with a race-ready version of the Prius!

    1. Ian says:

      I agree – when did “saving fuel” become conducive to F1 racing? Why not give them a Toyota Prius each and the winner is the one with the most fuel left at the end of the race!

      1. Steve Smith says:

        ‘Formula Prius’. What a great idea. I would think that Bernie will be making a call to Mr. Toyoda as we speak!

      2. CH1UNDA says:

        :) There would hardly be a race as the best way to have the most fuel at the end would be not to move at all

  41. Kirsty says:

    When Whitmarsh actually gives a team order next time, Hamilton won’t give a sh*t.

  42. Dorian says:

    @ C Pitter: Don’t be ridiculous, don’t play the race card as it’s just BS. But if you really wanna play that game, go onto http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk and summon a blogger by the name of S Hughes. You two would get on a treat!!

    Very sad…

  43. RON says:

    I liked the way Hamilton stamped on the snakes head…

  44. Nacho says:

    Had this been involving Alonso and all of you guys would be spitting fire against the FIA and Ferrari for “obvious team orders”. That’s what happened. Sorry we are not stupid.

  45. Leandro says:

    Hi James,

    Wouldn’t F1 be more interesting if they just banned radio communication?

    Cheers!!!

  46. RichardT says:

    To me the event seems pretty clear, both dirvers were given laptimes to stick to. JB stuck to his; lewis had a bad lap nearly 2 seconds down on target. JB caught him, and over took him. Least thats how i read it given the weeks news.

    I think the presser is largly for the FIA’s benefit; will be interesting to see what happens in canada.

    I think all this “mclaren want LH out is frankly a bit much”. If anything JB was a little naughty, but in his defense whats he gonna do if the target he is running to puts him right on LH’s bumper.

  47. Robert says:

    So things are beyond the control of the teams. Excellent. Keeps me interested until the final lap.

  48. Rennie says:

    I’m also frustrated by the prospect of ‘parade lap’ driving between team mates which will no doubt continue until they find a way to ensure sufficient fuel is carried to cover the race distance irrespective of strategy, without penalising relative engine efficiency/inefficiency. Just wondering if dictating each car carries a specified fuel weight which is calculated using benchmark amounts, e.g. the number of laps fuel to be carried = race distance plus ‘x’ laps with the fuel per lap calculated from a benchmark consumption for each engine(x revs, x lap time, something)to be reviewed whenever a car is updated. This still provides an incentive to design for fuel efficiency (carrying less fuel weight throughout) whilst discouraging race fuel saving (carrying unnecessary fuel to the end)- just need to ensure that the plus x laps amount is enough to counter going flat out for the full race distance. Not particularly well thought out but just a quick thought.

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