Difficult race for Lewis

LEWIS HAMILTONMP4-24-05Started: 14th Finished: 9th Fastest lap: 1m23.839s Pitstops: two (Op-Op-Pr)Championship points: 9 Championship pos: 7th

Lewis was delayed at the start as he attempted to pass Nelson Piquet and ran onto the grass as the Renault jinked right ahead of him. Perhaps fortuitously, it dropped him behind the first-lap carnage, and he was able to steer around most of the debris to emerge 15th. A lengthy first stint saw him slowly work himself up the order to run as high as sixth before making his first pitstop on lap 31 to fit another set of options. Resuming inside the top 10, he struggled with his rear tyres, which prompted an earlier-than-scheduled switch to the prime on lap 49. Thereafter, he drove well to withstand a late charge from Glock and finished ninth.

“Today was a difficult race for me because we lack the downforce of the top cars,” said Lewis. “I was a bit worried about my tyres after driving over so much debris at the first corner but I came out of it okay. It was a tough, long race and it was incredibly hard to keep the car on the road – it felt like driving on ice at times, especially at the end of the second stint, when the tyres were finished, and in the final stint, when there was very little grip on the prime.

“I gave it 100 per cent for the entire race so ninth place doesn’t feel like the proper reward for the team, who worked hard all weekend. Still, we’re all hopeful that Monaco will be a better race for us because the absence of fast corners shouldn’t hurt us as much as it did here. In fact, I’m already looking forward to it.”

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN MP4-24-02Started: 18th Finished: ret Fastest lap: 1m28.719s (16th) Pitstops: -Championship points: 4 Championship pos: 11th Starting from 18th on the grid and using the option tyre, Heikki got a good start, got himself ahead of the opening-lap chaos at the exit of Turn Two and ran 11th. However, when the Safety Car was deployed at the end of the first lap, Heikki lost fifth gear and then lost sixth and seventh gears in quick succession. Running back to the pits in fourth, he was forced to park it on lap seven.

“Luck just doesn’t seem to be going my way right now,” he said afterwards. “It’s been a difficult weekend – the car’s performance is not where we want it to be and this was tough for us all – but that’s life. But we shouldn’t forget that we’ve improved our car massively since we last tested here in the winter and eventually we’ll be fighting with Jenson and the other guys at the front. I’m already looking ahead to Monaco where I’ll be fighting harder than ever. I’m not going to let this get me down.”

MARTIN WHITMARSH Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes“Lewis made a great start off the line – but, after having been obstructed by another car, through no fault of his own he lost time avoiding an accident and ended up at the back of the field at the end of lap one. After that, his task was always going to be a tough one, because the Barcelona circuit is not an easy one on which to overtake. Furthermore, his tyres went off during his second stint, and then he got pipped by Fernando when they made their second pit stops. But he kept pushing as hard as he could, in ninth place, in the hope that one of the cars ahead of him would drop out and thereby allow him to score one hard-earned championship point. It didn't happen, unfortunately, but the fact that Lewis never gave up demonstrates just what a competitive individual he is. Heikki made a decent start, but his race was ended disappointingly – and unluckily – by a gearbox failure.

“We predicted that this race would be a low point of our season, and we've been proved right. In two weeks’ time, at Monaco, which is a very different kind of circuit from Barcelona, things ought to be significantly better for us. But we know we aren't yet where we want to be, and we'll continue to work flat-out to get there.”

NORBERT HAUG Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport“We knew since testing here what to expect from our car on this racetrack. Being lapped here is not what Lewis deserves: he delivered everything that was possible with his car today – we just cannot handle the high-speed corners and need to dramatically improve over the next weeks and months. Thank God the Brawn guys saved our bacon again with our engine in the back. Congratulations Jenson, Rubens, Ross and the whole team, you guys are the benchmark since the season started.”

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