• Button finishes second behind Fernando Alonso at Monza
• Team principal blames Hamilton aggression for crash
McLaren left Italy tonight cursing the mistakes that could cost Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button dearly in the world title race.
While Button finished second behind Fernando Alonso at the Italian grand prix, his first podium place in five races, the world champion was left frustrated after two crucial errors by his team denied him victory. His team-mate, meanwhile, crashed out on the fourth corner of the first lap as he lost the leadership of the drivers’ championship. He later admitted that mistakes like that could lose him the title.
“I put my car up the inside and tried to get third – it was obviously a little bit too much. It’s my fault. I take the blame,” Hamilton said. “I’m very disappointed in myself and sorry for the team. I’ve got to try to collect my thoughts and move on to the next race. The championship is not over, but it’s mistakes like I made today that lose world championships. It did not go according to plan. These things happen. You can’t always be perfect.
“I feel like I was in the wrong place at the wrong time – not too aggressive. There was a small gap and I ran out of room. It is a racing incident. In hindsight I should not have been in that position.
“It would have been easy to have got fourth today. I have to apologise to the team. We were strong here, just not as strong as we expected. But we are still in the hunt for the championship.”
Button led for much of the race after a flying start but was let down twice by his team. The first mistake was to go into the pits ahead of Alonso and the second was the time taken to change his tyres. He said tonight “We obviously thought it was the right decision to come in a lap earlier – but looking now I don’t think it was the right call. I don’t feel it worked for us today. But we got a good result and hopefully we will be as strong as this in Singapore.”
McLaren’s team principal, Martin Whitmarsh, said: “Jenson did a fantastic job. It was a great, great race by him. We could have made a better pit stop but it is fractions of a second and it nearly came off.”
Defending the decision to bring Button in, to change from soft to hard tyres, he said: “I think it was the right decision. The cars which went on to the prime tyre were quicker and so were we. We would have liked them to have stopped at the same time but that would have been a dumb thing for [Ferrari] to have done.”
Of Hamilton, Whitmarsh said: “I went in to see him [after the race]. I knew he had been in for some time and I went in to get him out after he had had time to reflect on it. The important thing is that Lewis jumps out of bed tomorrow, gets into training and focuses on Singapore. He wants to do the job better and he will.”
When he was asked if Hamilton had shown too much aggression, he said: “Viewed from the slo-mo in the armchair … yes. Viewed from the driving seat, Lewis would not be the great racing driver he is if he did not go for it. That’s what he did and with hindsight he wishes he had not gone for it quite as much, and so do we. You have to go out and race. But you break a trackrod and it’s game over.”
Meanwhile Alonso, who won the race to cries of “Stupendi” from his garage, said: “Most of the thanks for the win is to the mechanics.
“The pit stop felt so quick. I stopped, they changed tyres and there was a green light. I didn’t even have first gear in.”ends
Race report, page 8