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GP Week : Issue 124
Fernando alonso reckons it would have been difficult for him to win yesterday’s British Grand Prix had he not been gifted the lead when Sebastian Vettel hit problems at his final pitstop, costing the German eight seconds and another potential race win. Vettel had led every lap of the race until then but dropped behind alonso and Hamilton, consigning him to second place at the finish. Vettel and Alonso pitted together on lap 27, but a problem getting the left-rear tyre onto Vettel’s car cost the German dearly as Alonso slipped through to take the lead. The reigning champion was then stuck behind Hamilton, losing even more time, and eventually got by when he pitted one lap early for the final time. “At the pit stop we had a problem – the car was already back on the floor, but then we had to lift it back up again. By then I had lost the lead and came out in third,” said Vettel. “I struggled to pass Lewis, I thought I could go much quicker, but I never really had the chance. Once I was very close, but it didn’t work. “ We got him at the pit stop, but by then Fernando was already gone. It was a good result for us, but we had some problems and, if you’re not at your optimum, then there’s always someone there to beat you. Ferrari was very quick all weekend and they deserved the victory today.” When asked if he thought victory would have been possible without Vettel’s problems, Alonso wasn’t so sure. “I think it is difficult to have any prediction of what could have happened without the problems of Sebastian,” began Alonso. “For sure [it would have been] more difficult and you need to overtake on the track and when you are talking about two or three-tenths different pace in favour of them or us it is not easy to overtake as we saw with the McLaren and for Sebastian it was the same when he tried to overtake Lewis. “It is not easy to overtake so the pit-stop problems for them was a help. But [it’s] the same every race.” Slow Vettel pitstop hands victory to Alonso McLaren believe Jenson Button could have finished on the podium had he not been forced to retire with a loose right- front wheel. The Briton was running fifth up until his final pitstop, but he was released from his box before the offending wheel had been secured, as the mechanic had been changing wheel guns when Button was released. Team principal Martin Whitmarsh refused to heap blame on the pitcrew, explaining that it had been a simple case of human error. “Jenson drove an excellent race – combative yet disciplined – and I think he could well have bagged a podium finish had it not been for the pitstop mix-up that prematurely ended his race,” said Whitmarsh. “Our pitcrew has done a fantastic job all year – but on this occasion they released Jenson before his right-front wheel had been properly attached. “It was a case of human error in the heat of themoment–but,asIsay,andasIwantto stress the point, our pitcrew has completed dozens of faultless pitstops under extreme pressure this season and today’s error was therefore totally atypical.” Button stayed out one lap longer than those ahead of him before pitting for the final time, and believes he could have come out ahead of Webber after his pitstop. Such an outcome would likely have put Button on the podium, as team-mate Hamilton coped with saving fuel. “Before my final stop I’d had great pace, and I’d caught Lewis, Sebastian and Mark. When they peeled off into the pits, I stayed out for one more lap and I think I would have come out alongside, or even ahead of, Mark after the stop,” said Button. “But, as I turned out of the pitlane, my right-front wheel came off and I was forced to stop immediately. “The guy on the front-right lost the wheelnut and turned to take another; as he turned, I think his hand moved and the guy on the front jack felt that that was the trigger to lower the car. Then the lollipop lifted. Hopefully, we won’t have that sort of issue again.” McLaren were subsequently fined €5,000 for releasing Button without the wheel being secured. Missing wheel nut costs Button potential podium Team fined for unsafe release 26