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GP Week : Issue 179
While the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix ended with tension and drama, the early stages saw a moment of pure comedy gold, when new Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was called to the pits by his team and ended up pulling into the McLaren box. Hamilton is not the only driver to have made such a mistake – Jenson Button pulled into the Red Bull pits in China two years ago – but it was a moment of welcome levity for the watching fans, and for Nicole Scherzinger, who was seen laughing at her boyfriend’s mistake on the world television feed. “I don't know how that happened,” Hamilton said after the race. “The teams look so similar. I have been stopping in that pit box for years. [It’s] an easy mistake and hopefully one I won't make again.” Hamilton will have been grateful that the McLaren pit crew didn’t decide to do their old employee a favour and give the Mercedes driver a tyre change during his brief foray into their territory ... When Button made his final stop at the end of lap 35, the Briton was released by the team before the left rear wheel had been properly secured. The wheel gun issue saw Button draw to a halt in the pit lane, losing precious time – and a possible strong points finish – as the team rolled him back into the box where they could complete the job they’d started. “We’re very disappointed that Jenson lost a hard-earned and well- deserved fifth place, perhaps even third or fourth, as a consequence of a pit stop problem caused by a wheel-gun issue,” McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said in the team’s post-race press release. “Jenson did absolutely nothing wrong and reacted correctly to the green light, by the way.” In his post-race comments, however, Whitmarsh contradicted the team’s official statement. “For about 120 milliseconds, [Jenson] had a green light, so with lightning-speed reaction – just as he’s paid to do – he pulled away,” Whitmarsh said. “Those lights are controlled by a whole number of circumstances, like micro-switches and buttons that are around the car and a button was pressed and then released for about 120 milliseconds. “These people are trying to do sub-two-second stops. There's a lot going on in that time and a lot of pressure on people. Human error resulted in a green light. It's one of those occasions when you wish your driver wasn't so quick off the mark...” Box, Lewis, box – not that box! F1 >>> MALAYSIA 26 GPWEEK.com // 26 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: