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GP Week : Issue 150
McLaren was left licking its wounds after a hugely frustrating Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday in Sakhir, as the championship leaders heading into the weekend scored just four points after a combination of pitstop problems, poor pace, punctures and reliability woes cost them dearly. All appeared to be going to plan on Saturday, when Hamilton and Button qualified a respectable second and fourth, but it didn’t take long for their weekend to begin unravelling on Sunday. Although Hamilton kept second place off the line, his pace soon began to deteriorate before being passed by Lotus’s Romain Grosjean on lap 7. Things went from bad to worse at his first pitstop, when a problem with the left-rear wheel nut cost him over five seconds and three positions. An identical problem at his second pitstop cost him a further eight seconds and another four places. The Briton eventually crossed the line in eighth place, just three seconds behind fifth-placed Nico Rosberg where he would undoubtedly have finished but for the pitstop issues. It was his first race without a podium finish this year. “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,” said Hamilton. “There are good times and bad times in motor racing. I guess this was just one of those days.” Balance issues rather than pitstop problems hampered team-mate Button’s day, as he failed to find the pace to take the fight to the front-runners. He began his final stint in seventh place before an exhaust failure, followed by a puncture and then a differential problem ended his race prematurely. “I didn’t have a very good balance today: I was struggling all afternoon with oversteer. We were taking front wing out of the car all the way through the race, in fact,” he explained. “In the last few laps, the car sounded really noisy. I think the initial problem was an exhaust failure, then my puncture, and then a differential failure; so I had to retire. “It’s been a pretty difficult weekend for the whole team.” The result drops championship leader Lewis Hamilton to second place behind new leader Sebastian Vettel, while Button’s no-score drops him to fourth place. McLaren meanwhile drop to nine points behind Red Bull in the constructors’ battle, but still hold a healthy 35-point advantage over third-placed Lotus. CHAMPIONSHIP LEADERS McLAREN SLUMP TO DEFEAT NIGHTMARE WEEKEND FOR WOKING TEAM 24 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> BAHRAIN