Brazilian GP: McLaren Merecedes race report

LEWIS HAMILTON MP4-24-02 Started: 17th Finished: 3rd Fastest lap: 1m14.345s (6th) Pitstops: two (Op-Pr-Pr) 2009 points: 49 (5th) As Lewis passed the baton of world champion to Brawn GP's Jenson Button...

LEWIS HAMILTON
MP4-24-02

Started:            17th

Finished: 3rd
Fastest lap:      1m14.345s (6th)

Pitstops: two (Op-Pr-Pr)
2009 points: 49 (5th)

As Lewis passed the baton of world champion to Brawn GP's Jenson Button this afternoon, he signed off by posting a real champion's drive, storming through the field from 17th on the grid to third at the chequered flag.

With a first-lap accident prompting a Safety Car, Lewis's crew chose to pit him immediately, effectively switching him to a single-stop strategy and placing him on the more efficient Prime tyre for the remainder of the race.

Restarting the race from 14th, he pushed hard, passing both Jaime Alguersuari and Romain Grosjean on a single lap, and moving up to fourth before making his final stop on lap 42.

Rejoining behind pole-sitter Rubens Barrichello, Lewis caught the Brazilian, finally KERS-boosting past him along the start-finish straight on lap 62 to be third.

"It was an incredible race for me and I'm so happy," Lewis said. "Starting at the back was a completely different feeling from last year. This time, I wasn't involved in the championship outcome, but I'm incredibly happy for Jenson. I've been down to congratulate him, his team and his family.

"As for my race, I was so far behind on the grid that I didn't expect to finish on the podium, but I fought so hard and kept pushing like crazy throughout the whole race. It feels like a win when you come through fighting for positions all the time with good overtaking manoeuvres at the end.

"I just kept pushing and did one qualifying lap after another, which was very hard. The team kept telling me to keep going at that speed and our strategy was excellent. This was a great team effort."

The points scored today move Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to third position in the constructors' world championship, one point ahead of Ferrari.

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN


MP4-24-03 Started: 16th
Finished: 9th

Fastest lap:      1m14.303s (5th)

Pitstops: three (Pr-Pr-Op-Op)
2009 points: 22 (12th)

From 16th on the grid, Heikki was squeezed through Turn Two, suffered contact with Sebastian Vettel and spun, rejoining at the tail of the field and quickly pitting to top up his fuel load. However, through no fault of his own, Heikki was released before the refuelling nozzle had fully decoupled. As a result, the fuel hose was pulled from the rig and fuel was showered into the path of a following car, where it briefly ignited.

The delay in releasing the hose, signalling Heikki out of the pits, and the resultant loss of fuel into the car, meant that Heikki's race was compromised from the very first lap.

Nonetheless, he raced hard, working his way into a points-scoring position before making his second stop on lap 29. Thereafter, he enjoyed a spirited tussle with Kamui Kobayashi and efficiently dealt with Giancarlo Fisichella -- for the second time in two races -- at the exit of his third and final stop.

Ninth position doesn't accurately reflect his efforts today. His fifth fastest race lap, and -- without losing fuel at the start -- the team's estimated finishing position of fourth, by contrast do.

"While the results don't show it, I had a good race out there today," said Heikki. "I lost about six or seven laps' worth of fuel with the incident with the fuel-hose. And, without that problem, my first stint would have been longer and would have allowed me to get ahead of some of the cars ahead of me.

"I chased Kobayashi for a long time, and, even though I had the pace, I couldn't launch an attack on him because my rear tyres had degraded quite a bit by then.

"Still, I'm very pleased that our team has now moved ahead of Ferrari in the constructors' world championship. And I really feel I could have added to that total without my problems in the pitlane today.

"I'm already looking forward to the next race in Abu Dhabi. My aim there will be to go flat-out to ensure we consolidate that position and finish the season in third place."

MARTIN WHITMARSH
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

"First of all, on behalf of all at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, I'd like to offer our congratulations to Jenson, to Ross, to Nick and to the entire Brawn team for winning the drivers' and constructors' world championships this afternoon -- and to Mercedes-Benz, too, who supplied their winning engines. Jenson fully deserves his success -- although I'd like to make clear that both Rubens and Sebastian would also have been worthy champions, had things played out differently.

"Passing the champion's baton to Jenson is of course Lewis, who performed as brilliantly as ever today. We altered his strategy as a result of the deployment of the Safety Car, after which he drove a fantastic race from 17th on the grid to third at the flag. Had he not been stuck in traffic for a few key periods of the race, he may have finished even higher up the field. Certainly, his race pace was very strong.

"Heikki would have scored points too, had he not been delayed by a pitlane incident in which he was blameless, caused by human error. Fortunately, no-one was hurt in the incident and we were quickly able to effect the back-up rig ahead of both drivers' second stops. Once we get all the video footage back to Woking, we'll perform a forensic investigation, in 'slow time', to establish exactly what happened. Until we've done that, it's impossible for us to comment on the incident with any precision.

"Now, we travel to Abu Dhabi, where we intend to defend our new one-point lead over Ferrari in the constructors' world championship that Lewis's third place earned us today."

NORBERT HAUG
Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"What a race! Firstly, I would like to congratulate, on behalf of Mercedes-Benz, Jenson Button and the Brawn GP team for winning both Formula 1 world championships today.

"Ten months ago these guys were in danger of having no future in Formula 1. Today, they all achieved the biggest reward possible for all their hard work and effort. Well done Ross and Nick and everybody at Brawn GP -- you wrote a fairytale story this season.

"I also would like to express my sincere compliments to all our engine people at Brixworth and Stuttgart -- Mercedes-Benz powered two times in a row the world champion!

"Of course, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and Lewis would have liked to keep the world championship title in our camp -- but I think it's fair to say that Jenson and Brawn GP are successors that fully deserve what they achieved.

"So here are some unusual statistics to enjoy: for the second year in a row, car number 22, driven by an Englishman and powered by a Mercedes-Benz engine has finished fifth in Brazil to win the world championship -- what an amazing list of coincidences!

"Lewis today drove a fantastic race from 17th on the grid onto the podium, and this certainly was the best climbing up the ranks during all the 16 races this season. I'm totally convinced that he could have fought for victory today if he had started from the first two rows of the grid, which originally had been our plan.

"The team displayed a very smart move in switching both cars to a one-stop strategy after the Safety Car was deployed during the first lap. Heikki suffered from an early release from the pits which was entirely not his fault -- without this handicap he would have scored some solid points today.

"We are now third in the constructors' world championship and no other team has scored more points than we did during the second half of the season in the last seven races since Lewis's first win this year in Hungary in July. And no driver scored more points than Lewis since then.

"I would like to say sorry to Rubens and Sebastian who today needed to give up their fierce plans of winning the world championship -- but I am sure both of them see, like all of us, in Jenson Button a worthy successor to Lewis Hamilton as F1 world champion."

-credit: mclaren

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Jenson Button , Rubens Barrichello , Lewis Hamilton , Sebastian Vettel , Kamui Kobayashi , Romain Grosjean
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Brawn GP