JUNE 27, 2012
Teams frustrated by Hamilton / Maldonado shunt
That was the over-riding feeling among the managements of McLaren and Williams after Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado lost strong points for both teams on the penultimate lap of the European Grand Prix.
Hamilton, who went into the race as the championship leader, was battling to hold onto third place ahead of a closing Maldonado in Spain on the penultimate lap, on tyres that had significantly less grip.
With Sebastian Vettel already out of the race and Hamilton's other strong championship rival Fernando Alonso on course to score a maximum 25 points, there are those who believe that Hamilton should have had the presence of mind to appreciate that 12 points for fourth place were better than none, despite the actual impact clearly being Maldonado's fault. The likelihood was that the Venezuelan, in much better shape with his tyres, would have passed the McLaren during the remaining lap and a half in any case.
McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh, undoubtedly reluctant to be drawn into a controversy at a time when Hamilton's McLaren future is still fluid, said: "My view is that it was Maldonado's fault and deeply frustrating, but he's a racing driver.
"I'm sure in hindsight you have to say that dealing with someone like that, you have to take a different approach."
For Williams too, there was annoyance at another missed opportunity to score strong points. The FW34 is clearly a competitive car but having scored 43 points in the first five races, including Maldonado's win in Spain, the team has scored just a further two points in the last three races and lies seventh in the constructors championship.
"Obviously the team was disappointed to see one of our cars sustain damage so close to the end of the race when we were showing good pace," said chief operations engineer Mark Gillan.