Button back at the top, but Hamilton retires from German GP
By Berthold Bouman
Jenson Button was back at the top during the German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring today, he finished second after Sebastian Vettel was stripped of second position after a controversial overtaking manoeuvre when the pair accelerated out of the famous Spitzkehre, the hairpin at the end of the fastest part of the German circuit.
Button said, “It was a close race and I couldn’t quite get Fernando at the end. When you are in the middle of three you really have to fight and I was pushing a little bit more in the early part of the stint, whereas when you’re in front you can coast a bit in the bits where you don’t need to push.”
Button had a good start and soon positioned himself behind Vettel after the first round of pit stops, but he was only able to beat the German after the second round of stops. Vettel pitted one lap later than Button and on cold tyres he could not defend his second place, and he had to let the McLaren go past him.
The 2009 World Champion couldn’t get close enough to the Ferrari for his final overtaking move. Button commented, “It was close but Fernando knows as we all do where to use KERS to keep someone behind you. I ran out of steam at the end of the straight and the gap was a little bit too big to get back.”
And a few laps before the end of the race Button got involved in a fight with Vettel who was behind him, and he commented, “Sebastian [Vettel]’s pass was a pretty straightforward matter: the rules state that you can’t go off the track to gain an advantage. The thing is, there would have been more opportunities for him before the end of the race as my rear tyres were damaged. That’s because I had to push hard to try and catch Fernando [Alonso], which meant I had nothing left for the end of the race. We pretty much ran out of rubber two laps before the chequer.”
Lewis Hamilton was less happy, he ran over the debris left behind on the track after the inevitable first-lap collisions, and had to slowly drive back to the pits for a new set of tyres.
Hamilton stated, “My second-lap puncture was incredibly unfortunate: there was debris scattered across the full width of the track and I didn’t have any option other than to drive straight through it. What’s more frustrating is that, at the time, I was the eighth car through — so to be the one to get the puncture is just cruel luck.”
He rejoined the race in 24th and last place. He fought his way back to 18th spot, but after his second stop he emerged from the pit lane one lap behind leaders Alonso and Vettel.
He overtook Vettel in an attempt to unlap himself, Vettel labelled the move as ‘stupid’. “I don’t see the point in him trying to race us. It is a bit stupid to race the leaders,” said Vettel after the race. And he added, “I don’t think we need a different rule, if you want to go quick and you are a lap down and there is no chance to win the race, you should respect it and use common sense!”
Hamilton then attacked Alonso, who defended his position and also used Hamilton as a buffer between him and Vettel in the Red Bull. Fortunately, the game was over for Hamilton nine laps before the end of the race, and he had to park his car in the McLaren garage.
“At least I was able to have some fun out on track — my pace was good enough to be able to match the leaders during the middle stint. And that’s encouraging for me, because we know our car’s been genuinely quick this weekend,” said Hamilton.
McLaren is now third in the Constructors’ Championship, 70 points behind leader Red Bull and 17 points behind Ferrari, who are second. Hamilton is currently fifth in the Drivers’ Championship, 62 points behind leader Alonso, while Button is seventh, 86 points behind Alonso.
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