McLaren to investigate tyre drama

McLaren will today launch an investigation into the penultimate-lap drama that robbed Lewis Hamilton of 18 valuable points in yesterday's Spanish Grand Prix.

Hamilton was poised for second place at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya after driving a faultless race until a suspected left- front tyre rim failure plunged the 25-year-old into a tyre wall.

It means Hamilton now heads into Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix 21 points adrift of team-mate Jenson Button when he might otherwise have been only a point down.

"For Lewis, it was just one of those days," said team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

"He drove brilliantly, an impressively disciplined yet excitingly combative performance.

"He posted the fastest lap of the race on his way to what would have been a richly deserved second place had he not been forced to retire within spitting distance of the chequered flag.

"The parts will now be meticulously analysed back at the McLaren Technology Centre.

"Until we've done that we won't be able to make any definitive statements about what we think it was that caused the problem."

It is not the first time Hamilton has suffered tyre issues as he hurtled into a tyre barrier at 175mph in qualifying for the 2007 European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.

Several weeks later another puncture dropped Hamilton to fifth at the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul.

After yesterday's race the 2008 world champion admitted to being "absolutely blown away" by this latest problem, but has vowed to keep fighting.

"This is my third or fourth tyre blow out in my career. More than most people have in their whole lifetime," said Hamilton.

"There was no warning, the car felt great, so it was a surprise and a very disappointing end to the race.

"Up until that point it was pretty positive. I was just cruising to the finish line and heading for some great points.

"It was looking like a great job for us, but then it's never over until its over.

"Eighteen points and I'd have been right back in the championship battle, but as it is, I'm a little bit further back now.

"So I'm absolutely blown away that something happened on the last two laps of the race, but that's motor racing.

"You just have to keep your chin up and look forward."

Whitmarsh echoed Hamilton's sentiments, appreciating McLaren are still in a very strong position in both championships despite a lights-to-flag victory for Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber.

"Naturally enough, all of us at McLaren feel a little disappointed to have lost 18 world championship points at the 11th hour," added Whitmarsh.

"But there are nonetheless a lot of positives we can take from the weekend.

"We showed strong race pace, we're still leading both the drivers' and constructors' championships, and the next grand prix is at Monaco.

"McLaren has won that race no fewer than 15 times, significantly more than any other team in Formula One history.

"We'll be racing on the famous streets of the principality in a few days' time, and you can be sure we'll be doing everything in our power to add to our win tally there."