By Alan Davies, Formula One sports writer
Sunday, April 22, 2012
LEWIS Hamilton has called on McLaren Mercedes to improve their pitstops after two lengthy tyre changes cost the Formula 1 driver dearly in the controversial 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix.
Having started second on the grid, Hamilton crossed the finish line eighth at the Bahrain International Circuit today (Sunday), as F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel won from pole position.
It was a disastrous day in the pitlane for the 27-year-old Vodafone McLaren Mercedes star, with his first two stops for prime tyres costing him vital seconds.
Hertfordshire-born Hamilton said: “There are good times and bad times in motor racing. I guess this was just one of those days.
“By rights we should have been fighting to finish in the top four today, but it didn’t work out like that in the end.
“The delays in the pits were a big part of that, of course. For the driver sitting in the car, that’s always frustrating, because you’re just waiting and there’s nothing you can do to help.”
As a result of picking up just four points in the troubled Gulf kingdom, Hamilton, whose family live in Tewin, was leapfrogged by Vettel at the top of the FIA World Drivers’ Championships, with Red Bull also taking the lead in the constructors’ championship.
Hamilton, who has 49 points to Vettel’s 53, said: “We lost a bit of world championship momentum today – but, on the plus side, we still picked up four world championship points, and every point you score is valuable in a season as close-fought as this one.
“Now we’ll head into the European season, and it’s clear that we’ve got to do two things: we’ve got to work on the pace of our car and we’ve got to improve our pitstops.”
Jenson Button, Hamilton’s team-mate in the McLaren paddock, had to retire from the race in the closing laps.
“It’s been a pretty difficult weekend for the whole team,” said Button.
Martin Whitmarsh, the team principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, admitted it wasn’t the team’s best day at the office.
“Clearly, our performance was disappointing this afternoon,” said Whitmarsh.
The drivers’ championship standings after the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix.
1 Sebastian Vettel 53 pts
2 Lewis Hamilton 49
3 Mark Webber 48
4 Jenson Button 43
5 Fernando Alonso 43
6 Nico Rosberg 35
7 Kimi Raikkonen 34
8 Romain Grosjean 23
9 Sergio Perez 22
10 Paul di Resta 15
“Having said that, both Lewis and Jenson drove very well in extremely challenging conditions.
“Lewis pulled off some sensational passing manoeuvres in his efforts to push his way through to the front, but in the end he was let down by two slow pitstops, both of which were caused by delays at the left-rear corner of his car.
“Jenson’s pitstops were trouble-free, by contrast, so we’ll have to investigate what the problem was with the left-rear corner of Lewis’s car.”
Whitmarsh added: “Having said all that, we’re in second position in the constructors’ world championship, just nine points behind the leaders; equally, our drivers lie second and fourth in the drivers’ world championship.
“Lewis, in second, is just four points off the lead.”