Martin Whitmarsh admits that McLaren was surprised by how early Lewis Hamilton found himself in tyre problems in Valencia.
Hamilton was the first of the leaders to pit after the start, and also hit more severe trouble in the closing laps than anyone else who had changed to primes at the same time as he had, under the safety car.
“I think these days everything is a surprise in motor racing, isn’t it?,” Whitmarsh told this writer. “I think it was tough on the option tyre, which was probably overheating, so we decided to stop early. It was a little bit stronger on the prime tyre, frankly, but it would was obviously going to be a tough old race.”
Hamilton dropped behind Fernando Alonso after his disastrous pit stop under the safety car.
“We had an equipment failure at the stop which made it even tougher. It was the front jack that failed and dropped the car, and unfortunately with a pit lane like that he had to come in at a steep angle, so it wasn’t great anyway. As it turned out it did not materially have an effect on the outcome of the race, which was very disappointing.
“At the end he was clearly and obviously struggling on the tyres. Twenty nine laps on either tyre was going to be a challenge, and it proved very difficult to do. If you stopped early you were taking a big risk, so it was difficult to come through that one.
“The Maldonado incident finished his day off pleasantly! Obviously Maldonado was off the track and back on again – I’m sure both drivers have different views. It was pretty frustrating.”
Whitmarsh was pleased that Jenson Button at least managed to recover some points after losing ground at the start.
“Jenson lost some positions during the first lap, which was deeply frustrating on a circuit where it’s difficult to overtake, and in traffic of course you’re damaging your tyres. Ultimately he was had over by the safety car. Thereafter it was going to be pretty difficult. He snuck in and got some points at the end by just a controlled, disciplined drive.”