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Hamilton crashes as McLaren feel the pressure from rivals
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Hamilton crashes as McLaren feel the pressure from rivals
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Jul 2010   |  4:57 pm GMT  |  47 comments

It was a tough day today for Lewis Hamilton and the signs are that McLaren face a tough weekend with its main opposition looking strong.

The 2008 champion crashed in the rain in morning practice, hitting the tyre barriers hard and causing quite a bit of damage to his car.

“It was very, very slippery, ” he said. “What was actually a relief was when I came back and everyone explained to me how it occurred. I hit the limiter and upshifted and I spun the wheels. Obviously a moment which I tried to correct and didn’t correct it well enough or whatever, and it put me off onto the grass. And I was just a passenger.

Hamilton: Warning signs all around (Darren Heath)


“It took all four corners pretty much off. It was a huge, huge amount of work for the guys, and they are just phenomenal. They did such an awesome job. I got back out and I only (had) 10 laps to do.”

Hamilton has taken several memorable wins in the wet, notably Silverstone 2008 and Fuji 2007, but the conditions caught him out today.

He recovered later on in the drier afternoon session to set the seventh fastest time on the harder of the two tyres, while most of the front runners ran the super soft Bridgestone has brought its most extreme range of tyres to Hockenheim as an experiment and the signs are that with the rain washing the track clean of rubber, the super softs will be quick in qualifying, but will grain quickly in the early part of the race, leading to early pit stops.

Hamilton’s performance on the hard tyres is encouraging, as was the long run his team mate Jenson Button did. Getting the front tyres to warm up will be challenging for some teams.

McLaren looked like they were still dealing with overheating of components at the rear of the car due to the blown diffuser and they haven’t quite sorted out the handling issues the device entails, but Hamilton indicated that they are likely to stick with it for the weekend, unlike Silverstone where they were forced to abandon it after Friday practice and this was confirmed tonight by McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh.

Ferrari’s strong performance today – Alonso was fastest and looked good for it – and the improved pace of the Mercedes has increased the pressure on McLaren at the front. It will be very interesting to see what the outright pace of the leading four cars is, presuming we have a dry qualifying session.

As the rain around Hockenheim seems quite localised – it was dry 20kms north of the circuit during free practice – it’s hard to predict what might happen weatherwise tomorrow.

Hamilton said that he does not feel confident about holding on to his championship lead in the face of stiff competition, in what is turning out to be a wonderfully open championship,

“It’s just about doing a better job than anyone else, and that’s why we are leading the championship,” he said. “But it’s not because we have been the quickest. I still think today we are not quickest. We are quick, but it’s not enough. But we’ll get there. If we are able to make that step in pure pace then we should be smiling. But let’s see.”

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47 Comments
  1. HamFan says:

    Thought Hamilton did a pretty good job with limited laps. It seemed as though even on the hard tyres he was matching the best split times for sectors 1 and 2, but losing time in the final sector. Was that part of the track wetter than earlier in the other session, or any other reason why the McLaren would be slow in that section?

    1. Andy W says:

      On the commentary from P2 they talked a fair bit about the 3rd sector times being very heavily affected by the amount of fuel the car was carrying at the time. When Alonso went and put a good slug in to do his longer run simulation his 3rd sector times where equally far off his fastest times.

  2. Andy W says:

    It ain’t over till the chequered flag is waved on Sunday…. and thats when the points get awarded as well.

    How many times have we seen teams struggle on a Friday to do well in qualifying and/or the race? How many times have we seen teams put in a good Friday performance only to struggle on Saturday and in the race?

  3. Damian Johnson says:

    Hi James,

    I read many comments referring to McLaren’s pace in developing their car but I am not so sure about this as they have been slow to adopt an EBD. I sense that other teams such as Ferrari, Renault, Mercedes and Williams are catching McLaren as they are now optimizing their EBD while McLaren are still trying to install it.

    1. max says:

      i saw on f1 technical (i think) that williams have had the EBD brewing in the pipeline since last year, if they kept that toyota engine they would of used it from the start. Mclaren are doing fine, its just been a tricky few weekends.

  4. Luke A says:

    James,

    Any word if any other teams are now running the Q3 retarded ignition engine trick? Could this possibly be why Ferarri and Mercedes have made a step or have they just refined and enhanced their blown diffuser solution?

    To me, I would be very surprised if McLaren were not at least the 3rd quickest team and to be honest, if this blown diffuser gives them a few tenths, they should be ahead of Ferarri and fighting Red Bull for pole.

    If you look back to Valencia, which isn’t too dissimilar to this circuit, Lewis was 4 tenths off pole and Fernando 5 tenths. Lewis, however, had that moment on his final hot lap in Q3 and could have probably been 2 – 3 tenths off the pace. Since then, Red Bull have introduced 1 or 2 updates, but so have McLaren (their front wing and other small bits), so you would expect the difference round here to be maybe 3 – 4 tenths. If McLaren can therefore find that amount from the blown diffuser, then they should be fighting for pole.

    Ferarri in the meantime, have obviously enhanced their blown diffuser solution and so maybe they have got more time out of it and will be closer too, but seeming as McLaren were only a tenth behind Ferarri at Silverstone then if they decide to use their blown diffuser here (which should at least be worth 3 tenths – you would think) then they should be ahead of Ferarri.

    I personally think that Lewis’ lap on the hard tyres in P2 was very encouraging. He had the fastest time in the second sector – a 36.3, demolishing that of most of the guys in-front, however, he lost 7 tenths in the last sector and 3 tenths in the first. To me, this means that firstly, they need to add more wing and downforce as they will lose a little on the straight in sector 2, but will gain big time in sectors 1 and 3. Also, the cars infront all ran on the super-soft, which probably benefited most in sectors 1 and 3.

    Logically, the super-soft would be half a second faster than the hard tyre, and it looked like it was arguably even faster than that in P2, therefore, Hamilton could have easily been right up there had he done a time on the super-softs.

    1. James Allen says:

      They are working on it, is what I’ve been told

    2. Michael says:

      Lewis could have been very light on fuel at that time.

    3. Nick F says:

      that’s intelligent analysis, but who knows if you are right or not. it’s hard to read. who knows what fuel loads they all had. presumably lewis’ tyres although they were the hards were newer and tomorrow the weather could be totally different so goodness knows what that will do to the tyres and the cars balance.

  5. Andy C says:

    I think mclaren will leave it on for the weekend. There has to be benefit in running it rather than not. Otherwise there isn’t much running on a Friday to get it working well quickly.

    James,
    do you think they will leave it on?

    1. James Allen says:

      It wasn’t working well

      1. Luke A says:

        But they have confirmed they will keep it on for the weekend? Surely if it isn’t working well and looks like it could be even more problematic in the wet (when their old floor showed great pace in wet conditions) then they should not use it.

        The risks involved are not worth it if they are only getting a tenth or so net gain. To me, as long as it is gaining 3 tenths or more, then it is well worth using it. If it is less than 2 tenths, then maybe not

      2. Cliff says:

        McLaren will be looking past this weekend. With no testing they will still need some data (don’t forget the teams are obliged to shut their factories for two weeks, no work including development of components will be allowed) before they arrive at Spa & Monza, two circuits with long sweeping curves and let’s not forget Suzuka in October. Next week, in Hungary they will need plenty of downforce. After those races they will be on flyaways so FP1, 2 & 3 will more important and testing major components like the EBD will probably not on the teams agenda. If McLaren can’t get the EBD working as it should you may see them playing the percentage game by grabbing big points without taking the wins.

      3. Andy C says:

        They do seem to be struggling with balance with the new diffuser, so while the benefits when it’s working are large but it will take time to get it working.

        I think they will leave it on as someone else said to get some race distance testing, as if it’s not working better next race they will start to suffer for the rest of the season.

      4. Nick F says:

        “wasn’t working well” in what sense? …That its not producing more downforce, or that it’s too throttle dependent and is constantly upsetting the handling, or that it’s cooking the car at the back? …Or are we talking the nightmare scenario of all 3?

      5. Nick F says:

        Do you happen to know how much downforce it adds? …does it do something like add 3% of downforce at the back on throttle and then lose it when they are off throttle? …and is the amount so large that they can’t compensate with their moveable front wing? …oh! is there a rule about how many times you can move the front wing?

        …sorry. too many questions. :-)

      6. FemiA says:

        I have a feeling you are going to get bitten on this one James.

      7. Paul says:

        Dont understand what will james get bitten on

  6. Tom (London) says:

    Bit off topic, I was very very impressed with Karun Chandhok on the BBC commentary. I really like the insight that David Croft and team bring to Friday practice commentary.

    Chandhok really knows his formula one history, nearly as much as our James!

    Anyone know what is the situation with Buttons race engineer Jakob Andreasen?

    1. drplix says:

      Completely agree. Karun is great value. I really love the fact that he is a very knowledgeable fan. Top bloke.

      Incidentally, both Karun and Ant thought that Lewis was unlucky and if anything, if he’d not been “too good” at trying to correct his moment, he’d have spun down the track like all the others.

      Too bad. But makes it interesting for tomorrow.

      1. Nick F says:

        I’m a fan of Lewis too, but the “he crashed because he is too good” idea is kind of funny. I know what you mean. He was unlucky to lose control and not just spin like everyone else, but to hit the tyre wall.

        He has had a good run of luck (not being affected by his 2 touches of Vettel’s car) and results recently I think. That couldn’t go on forever.

        —–

        I thought Chandhok was good too. I wonder if he has done that kind of thing before. he seemed very good at it.

      2. chetz says:

        he does commentary for star sports’ india telecast of f1 quite regularly. actually till last year, this year he s been driving until now.

    2. Cliff says:

      Completely agree with you Tom. I have to admit I knew very little about Karun Chandok but I was impressed with him in both sessions. He also sounds lile a decent bloke.

      1. James Allen says:

        He’s a very decent bloke and it was a smart move to do the comms today with the 5 Live boys.

      2. C Pitter says:

        I enjoyed Karun too – he may have a job for the future.

    3. Andy W says:

      Would like to agree with the compliments given to Karun, I have been impressed by him all season as to how likeable and capable he is.

      Now if only we could get someone with that much intelligence and likeability to partner Brundle.

      1. Alias J says:

        Hey, you’re writing in his blog this very moment! Although I think James has become much more famous now, and very influential in F1.

      2. Andy W says:

        I would certainly love to see James renew his commentating partnership with Martin, but I would also like to hear what David Croft and Martin could do… In fact I think just about anyone and Martin would be an improvement over Legard and Martin, certainly if you gave the person a year and a half to learn how to do it well.

  7. Rosenblaum says:

    James, are you at Hockenheim this weekend?

    1. James Allen says:

      Was at the track yesterday and today yes

      1. Rosenblaum says:

        Awesome! There are various rumors on forums that you don’t visit many of the races anymore. I hope you continue to visit most, if not all, races on the calendar. I would hate to imagine you were just synthesizing publicly available information just like many other bloggers do while sitting in front of their computers instead of getting their hands dirty and speaking/mingling with F1 personnel in real-life and not just through teleconferences.

        I will now visit JA on F1 with renewed enthusiasm. Thank you for answering my question.

        On a related note, the number of initiatives you’re taking on this website (the technical notes with detailed diagrams, strategy calls, video features, etc.) are mind blowing.

  8. Paddy says:

    Hey folks thank god it friday and we can settle down to our sunday lunch in what hopefully shall be an enthraling grand prix, ferraris clicked, hamilton with his ability to pull something incredible in the wet/drying condition and not forgetting jensons a dab hand at this either. are they feeling the pressure of the red bull and ferrari?? -doubt they are as much as red bull are, can you imagine a webber/vettel wipeout again? or a dnf for either driver? -they would feel themselves the tide turning, i believe. the incredible car has been passed and is strainig to catch the guys infront. no? maybe im wrong but to me this is a gigantic race for rbr. regardless folks thoughroly enjoy it. and james….legend! cheers

  9. Owen.C says:

    How much faster do you reckon Lewis could’ve gone? I expect the softs to help out in the last sector where he was 7tenths down.

    Still it looked like the McLaren was running relatively low downforce.

  10. Malcom says:

    I doubt if it was the tremendous pressure which caused Hamilton’s crash, but just a simple mistake. The pressure didn’t seem to bother him, when he posted the fastest middle sector time of anyone during practice. I wonder what he would have done today on the soft tire?

  11. Nando says:

    Ferrari’s pace looking ominous even Massa was on it, although red bull always seem to sandbag through practice.
    Would be an achievement for Lewis to get on the 2nd row and then go from there.

  12. HowardHughes says:

    Wouldn’t have happened to Gaston Mazzacane…

  13. F1 Fanatic says:

    Hamilton did a solid job to get on 7th with just about 10-14 minutes remaining and a 10-lap stint (correction?) on the harder tyre. The car still has some handling problems I think, and doesn’t look as planted and as stable as the Ferrari in sector 3. Is it me or does McLaren have a slight issue with traction out of corners? Red Bull and Ferrari with their mechanical grip seem superior in this department.

  14. Chris Partridge says:

    James, I wonder if Jenson’s mechanics helped out too on Lewis’ car rebuild. It would be interesting to see if they did because I guess it was such a big job.

  15. Kieran says:

    James

    Timo Glock was 12th in first practice! Only two tenths of the back of the Toro Rosso cars.

    So, do you believe that this is down to a miracle of re-design by the Virgin Racing Team, the like of which would be impressive for a major team with massive funding …

    … or the rain.

    Give a Virgin fan some hope, James!

    Kieran

  16. ksle12 says:

    james we really missed you the commentary of bbc is boring specially jonathan legard, with this three words he repeat all time ( he’s done it , here he comes)i have to listen 5live commentary while watching bbc1.

    james is there chance we may see you back in the commentary.

    1. C Pitter says:

      I agree. It may seem like a cliche now to criticise Legard, but he really is hopeless and ruins the coverage. I would love it if James came back – he had a great rapport with Brundle but with Legard, Brundle appears frustrated.

    2. gn23 says:

      couldn’t agree with you more. But unlike my UK counterparts i don’t have the ability to choose commentary as I am in South Africa. Legard sound horrible, even his knowledge of the sport is limited in my view, although Martin Brundle often saves the day for him. Sometimes he misses action that is clearly visible on the screen then soon afterwards he sounds confused, presumably trying to makes sense of the whole situation (think Canada, Button’s overtaking move). Surely BBC can do better than this. James any chance of you coming back.

      Otherwise, looking forward to some good racing. Good luck to LH. despite the setback he had yesterday, i still think he can produce a good result

      1. El Shish says:

        I have to say, I’ve always admired James’ refusal to comment on this (unless I’ve missed something) despite the number of times it gets commented on. Think we’d all enjoy James on the TV with somebody like Brundle but the silence on the topic is very dignified.

  17. JohnBt says:

    Wishlist:

    Alonso – Pole Position

    Alonso – Winner for Formula 1 Grosser Preis Santander Von Deutschland 2010.

    Alonso – Fastest Lap

    A bit greedy ain’t it.

    LOL.

    1. panya says:

      Couldn’t agree with you more.

      Good luck Fernando.

  18. Harvey Yates says:

    Despite the fact I find it a distraction to racing proper I reckon the qually battle between Vettel and Webber in going to be spectacular today. It’s Germany so you’d favour the native, but then it is also Hockenheim so one would assume you’d also favour the bloke from Oz. We might finally see who is right out of those who say Vettel handles pressure well and the others who say the opposite.

    One wonders what Horner wants from qualifying. A lowering of pressure from above or the chance to say I told you so? Anything other than another front row lock out will be seen as a disaster. Ferrari would appear to have improved their package to a considerable degree but I can’t see them being a threat and with McLaren in disarray, to the extent that Button seemed to be on data patrol all through final practice yesterday, they must be seen as clear favourites and by some margin.

    Rain is the big unknown. Exciting, isn’t it.

    A green track means that there will be no dirty line. Vettel’s nightmare.

    Apart from the Red Bulls being on the front row I’m in a quandary for the rest. There is little evidence from Friday to help to decide on row two and three.

    Hockenheim’s not been an unending source of thrilling races when it’s been dry so I hope the rain will have a rest day tomorrow and then come back with some real enthusiasm on Sunday.

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