McLaren mishaps crush home hopes

Hamilton and Button left well off the pace and praying for rain as Red Bull and Ferrari dominate front of grid

The stiff upper lip is a peculiarly British thing, and McLaren are a very British team, but the notion of taking defeat with equanimity was wearing decidedly thin here yesterday.

All through the previous week Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton had enthusiastically talked up their prospects of victory in their home race in a series of engagements on behalf of their sponsors – but when the chips were down neither had the equipment to get anywhere close to delivering the kind of performance in qualifying that their bedraggled fans had travelled so far and paid so much to see.

Upgrades to their cars, aimed at minimising the effect of the so-called ban on the off-throttle blown diffusers and enhancing aerodynamic behaviour in Silverstone's distinctively challenging high-speed corners, failed to close the gap to their rivals. As Red Bull continued to rule despite all the rule-change jibba jabba, and Ferrari maintained their pace from the previous race in Valencia and their status as Red Bull's closest challenger – which McLaren had hitherto held – McLaren put on a show that was, at best, feeble.

Button struggled to fifth place in 1min 31.898sec, 1.5sec off Mark Webber's 1:30.399 pole-position lap and a scant 0.1sec ahead of Paul di Resta's beautifully driven Force India. The latter uses the same Mercedes engine but has had nothing like the same budget and technical development lavished upon it.

But if that was bad, given their pre-race aspirations, Hamilton's situation was nothing short of disastrous as his best lap of 1:32.376 was two seconds off Webber and left him as the last of the 10 drivers who competed in the third and final qualifying session. Among them were, besides the Scottish rookie Di Resta, the likes of fellow newcomer Pastor Maldonado in the Williams and Kamui Kobayashi in a Sauber, neither of whom one would normally expect to challenge Hamilton. It transpired that he had used a set of tyres that had gone through their heat cycle in Q1 but not been used thereafter because of the rain at the end of that.

"I don't know what to make of that," Button said. "My first lap was not great. I think the balance of the car wasn't quite there. Fifth... you'd say it's OK after what we've been through the last couple of days, but the gap is massive. One-and-a-half seconds is just massive.

"That's all I have to say, really. It's disappointing to be where we are. I mean, fifth is a reasonable position but 1.5 seconds off the pace... If I got the lap perfect it would have been just a couple of tenths."

The 31-year-old from Frome is an urbane fellow even in times of distress, but his chin was clearly on the floor. "In two hours I will be all positive and hoping that we can do well, but at the moment I'm disappointed with where we are."

Hamilton, usually the more outwardly passionate and critical of the two, did the better stiff-upper-lip job even though his chances are minimal in a race he so desperately wants to win again. "We were just not fast enough," he admitted to Radio 5 Live. "We did everything we could but nobody knew what the weather was going to do and I kept asking my guys. In the end they made a mistake and fitted old tyres when everyone else was on new ones, and I just couldn't get the grip that I needed. By the time I got on to new tyres, the rain came. Shit happens..."

Explaining his upbeat demeanour despite the disappointment, he added: "I guess that's because it's out of my hands, it really is. I drove as well as I could, but we just didn't have the right tyres on." He was also drawing on the affection and support of the crowd. "The fans here are spectacular; that and the family time is all I can take in right now."

Hamilton's father, Anthony, had earlier slammed the FIA's dilly-dallying over the rules, and suggestedthat it put the drivers under far too much unnecessary pressure. But his son was calm: "Everyone is doing their best job to interpret the rules, and that doesn't affect me. I'm just focusing on my job and going forward, and trying to get the car going quicker. I just don't have any choice but to keep a positive attitude and to let the fans help me with that. I think I might have run out of miracles, so I just hope that it rains."

Ferraris fired up

Yesterday, as the spotlight was turned on the argument over technical regulations between Red Bull and McLaren, the famed Scuderia Ferrari got quietly on with their job. And when the dust had settled after qualifying and Red Bull appeared still to be dominant, Fernando Alonso had driven unobtrusively into third place only fractions of a second off their pace. Given that Ferrari habitually race better than they qualify, he can be the genuine challenger for victory that McLaren cannot be.

"It's the best qualifying of the year in terms of the gap to pole position," said Alonso. "We have been averaging one second or seven tenths away and being here in Silverstone at a circuit that is not our preference, being one tenth from pole is good news for us."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Sheeran arrives at the 56th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year
musicYes, that would be Ed Sheeran, according to the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor