McLaren downplays pitstop problem

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh reckons his team did not have the pace to win the European Grand Prix, downplaying the significance of a problem during Lewis Hamilton's second pitstop

McLaren downplays pitstop problem

Hamilton lost the lead of the race when he stopped for the second time, when one of his tyres was not ready in time. He returned to the track in second place behind Rubens Barrichello.

But Whitmarsh believes that even without the problem, Hamilton will not have won the race.

"I think it was clear that we weren't as quick in the race as we should have been," Whitmarsh told the BBC. "Rubens was running quite a bit longer than us and we had to open a bigger gap.

"We tried and pushed so we could try and get an extra lap. That made our call late and we didn't get the tyres out on time. It probably cost us two seconds but it didn't effect the outcome of the race.

"The fact is that we didn't have the race pace to win. So we pushed it to the absolute limit, we're not there to get second. We monitor the fuel flow and we were trying to get the extra lap.

"In doing so it cost us a couple of seconds, had we come in without the delay it wouldn't have made any difference to the outcome. The fact is we weren't quick enough in race pace."

He added: "Lewis was meant to come in on lap 37, we were trying to extend him to 38 which meant swapping the drivers over in the pit order. At the time we had Heikki racing Kimi and Lewis racing Barrichello.

"We decided at the last minute that the best hope of winning this grand prix was to allow an extension, which meant an early stop for Heikki. And that changeover... the guys were waiting for the stop but they didn't know whether it was going to be Lewis or Heikki.

"To have a car arrive and not have the tyres there is an operational error. But it was a consequence of us pushing hard for the extra lap. Had the tyres been ready it wouldn't have changed the outcome. We lost maybe a couple of seconds, but by the time we came out we were six, seven seconds behind. We were pushing hard that made an error in the system.

"We have got to have a car that is quicker in the race and then strategy is easy."

Hamilton was philosophical about the incident and stayed upbeat about McLaren's form.

"I led most of the race, which is good. These things happen you know," Hamilton said. "Some you win, some you lose. We did the best job we could. This is a huge improvement though. We don't have the best car just yet. I believe we can catch up and it's great to be at least challenging for wins.

"In terms of the procedure with the guys they never make mistakes in pitstops. They are the best and that's where we win races. It's just that I was saving fuel as well as trying to bridge the gap. It was unsure whether I had enough for that extra lap or not.

"They'd asked me to come in that lap, I was just coming in, at the white line, then they realised I had enough for an extra lap and they did tell me to do another lap, but it was too late. I was committed to the pitlane. So while that happen they anticipated me coming in on the next lap."

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