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McLaren in India: winner of the second half of the race

McLaren
McLaren at the Indian GP
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W the race would only start on lap 30, the McLaren Drivers would have landed a double victory. But when all the favorites had switched from soft to hard tires, Lewis Hamilton was already 20.6 seconds behind front runner Sebastian Vettel. Jenson Button was even 30.1 seconds behind. Not even the fastest cars in the field can catch up.

Hamilton made up 6.7 seconds on Vettel in the second half of the race. With Button it was 3.8 seconds. In the end only places four and five remained. Mark Webber was able to defend third place despite KERS problems. And Fernando Alonso also flew on the hard rubbers. The Ferrari driver also made up ground on Vettel.

Problems on soft tires already in qualifying

As so often in this season, those involved failed to provide an explanation. 'We already had problems with the soft tires on Friday and Saturday,' said McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh in an attempt to analyze it. 'The track is strange. It has as little grip as on a street circuit. So warming up the tires is a game of patience. Strangely, we got into the working window more easily with the hard tires than with the soft ones. I can't remember us have experienced that to this extent before. '

Jenson Button drove a seven-round turn in qualifying until he finally got a reasonable lap time. 'No other driver had tires as old as I did at the start. The first ten laps were a single battle. The car really jumped on the front axle. I had terrible understeer and couldn't defend myself against Fernando and Lewis.' When changing tires, the McLaren technicians knew why. 'The left front tire blistered. The condition was shocking,' reported Whitmarsh.

Hamilton's first set of tires also had four laps on the tread at the start. The future Mercedes driver got under the wheels on the starting lap and dropped from third to fifth place. After four laps, Hamilton was ahead of his teammate. But on the Red Bull and Fernando Alonso, the World Cup fifth had to tear down. He also complained about balance problems with the soft tires.

Button drives fastest race lap

That changed with the second set of tires. Immediately after his move, Hamilton drove the fastest laps and caught up to the top. Buttons strongThe hour struck at the very end. That was all the more astonishing since Button was the first to switch from the top drivers to the hard tires. When Button drove the fastest lap on the last lap, the set of tires had already completed 35 laps.

And what a lap time the 2009 world champion put on the track. With 1.28.203 minutes he was four tenths faster than Alonso and half a second than Vettel. 'We told him to save fuel,' grinned Whitmarsh, a little pained.

Button himself raved about his McLaren: 'The second half of the race was really fun. I was able to fully attack, the car was in balance Fantastic, and I had the feeling that the tires would last forever. '

Five wheels in 3.1 seconds

There was another record for McLaren. Despite changing the steering wheel, Lewis Hamilton managed the fourth fastest pit stop. Vettel's record was only 0.145 seconds short. 'That was a masterpiece,' applauded team boss Whitmarsh. 'But I don't want to do this exercise every race. It's not just about changing the steering wheel. The whole thing has to be precisely coordinated with the tire change. Lewis had to put the wheel in neutral, throw the steering wheel out, a new one came in, then had to he press the settings for leaving the pit lane, engage first gear and drive off. '

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