• Lewis Hamilton hopes for upgrades from McLaren
• Jenson Button ‘punishes’ himself by entering triathlon
The Malaysian Grand Prix may well be remembered as an aberration, a curiosity piece. Fernando Alonso is unlikely to win another race this season unless his Ferrari improves, and Sergio Pérez’s light has never shone as brightly as this.
Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren team principal, has described Sunday as “a damage limitation day”, saying that the disappointment he felt in not gathering more points was offset, largely, by the failures of Red Bull and Mercedes.
But the lack of race pace, as opposed to qualifying pace, should still be a worry for McLaren. And Lewis Hamilton, who again finished third from pole on Sunday, confirmed the point.
Towards the end of the race Hamilton, running third, could not make up any ground on the leaders, Alonso and Pérez. Meanwhile he was being caught by the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. It was a warning that despite the dominance of the McLarens in Australia – and again qualifying in Malaysia – there is still much work to be done.
Reflecting on Sunday’s race, Hamilton said: “In qualifying we are very quick but we need to be quicker in the race. Our low speed downforce needs to improve. If we make some improvements to the car and maybe our pit stops then we can do a little better. We will have some upgrades I hope. I will go back and push the guys to see if we can get some upgrades to try and eke ahead of the guys particularly in the race.”
Just as in Australia, Hamilton started in pole only to see things go against him. This time he spent too long in his first pit stop, delayed in the pit lane by the two Ferraris. “It definitely feels like some things are not going my way,” he said. “In Australia the safety car kind of screwed me and in Malaysia, at the first pit stop, I was in the lead quite comfortably.
“But with the double shuffle with the Ferraris, I don’t know if it was a bad call from my team, but I lost two places. Then I had problems with the right rear jack in the next stop and then in the one after that I had a problem with my right front. So it was a little bit unfortunate but my time will come I’m sure.”
Meanwhile Jenson Button, who apologised to his team for his mistake on Sunday, when he crashed into the HRT of Narain Karthikeyan, has decided to “punish” himself by taking part in a triathlon in Hawaii on Sunday. “I’m going to hurt myself because I deserve the pain after Sunday. I will make sure I hurt myself extra for such a bad day.”
But Button felt positive when he looked forward to the next two races in China and Bahrain. “Two good races,” he said. “They have been good to us in the past, especially China. We have won it for the past two years. I’m looking forward to it. I’m not sure what the weather conditions are going to be like. It could be like this and another tricky afternoon again.”
Another man looking forward to next month’s Chinese Grand Prix is the Sauber principal Peter Sauber, who is still celebrating Pérez’s brilliant drive for second. He said: “This is the first, huge explosion from him. Now we have to wait for the next race. I hope he can develop but it’s a long, long way.
“People have called Checo a pay driver. That’s a joke. We signed a contract with him because he is a big talent. But we have to work with him. Of course he nearly won. Everyone saw that. That’s not so important. For us, for the team, it’s very important that it’s absolutely clear: the car is fast. And the driver is very good. We’ve got two quick drivers.”
Meanwhile, the Williams team have announced that their chairman, Adam Parr, will leave the team at the end of this week. Parr joined Williams in 2006 as chief executive officer. He was promoted to chairman during the 2010 season.
But they have not always been a united team and last year finished bottom of the midfield outfits. It was the worst year in their proud Formula One history.