Abu Dhabi: McLaren established two new benchmarks at Sunday’s Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but that came as small consolation to the record-winning outfit.
After dominating the race weekend, Lewis Hamilton suffered a fuel pressure problem on the 20th lap that put him out the race and it was left to his teammate Jenson Button to ensure points for his team with a fourth-placed finish.
Before Hamilton’s race came to a premature end, he had set a new milestone by taking McLaren’s aggregate distance spent in the lead of Grands Prix past the 50,000-km mark. And, secondly, in scoring 12 world championship points for Button’s fourth place, McLaren set a new record of 56 points-scoring races on the trot, eclipsing Ferrari’s previous mark.
Team boss Martin Whitmarsh said: “Neither of these statistics provide much comfort for anyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, but they certainly both bear witness to a truly impressive magnum opus of on-track McLaren achievement in Formula One, going back all the way to 1966.
“I hope we can get back to the front [in the remaining races in the US and Brazil] as I’d love to take a win or two more before the end of the season.”
Hamilton’s retirement meant McLaren dropped more points to Ferrari in the race for second place in the constructors’ championship behind Red Bull. “That was a great pity, but we have two big races remaining in which to make up the balance,” Whitmarsh said.
“You may be well sure that Hamilton and Jenson and everyone else in our team will be aiming to make it two United States Grand Prix victories on the trot for our team.”
2008 world champion Hamilton was left frustrated by his car’s failure on Sunday. “I’m gutted — I’d had really good pace all weekend and I feel certain we could have won,” he said.
“It was very sudden and the car just died on me. The only mistake I made all weekend was having a brief moment on lap two, when my brakes weren’t fully up to temperature and I locked up into Turn Eight.
“After that, however, everything was going really well. The car was a dream to drive — I was cruising and still pulling away when I had my problem.”