• Canadian Grand Prix

Whitmarsh surprised by Ferrari's risk taking

ESPN Staff
June 11, 2012 « Hamilton vows to remain consistent | Domenicali predicts three-way fight for drivers' title »
McLaren had the better of Ferrari in Canada © Press Association

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh was surprised Ferrari and Red Bull attempted to complete the Canadian Grand Prix with just one stop - a strategy that ultimately backfired.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton won the race on a two-stop strategy while his main rivals Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel attempted to make the end of the race with just one tyre change. Hamilton's strategy proved faster and he took the lead from with six laps remaining, while Vettel opted to make a late stop and Alonso fell to fifth as his tyres dropped away.

"I was a little bit surprised to be honest that Ferrari and Red Bull appeared to have a small upside with quite a lot of risk with their strategy in my view," Whitmarsh said. "There are times when you can take a punt like that but I think the potential gain was quite small and the risk was quite large. I'm glad they did of course and I think the team did a great job today with running the race. I think Lewis is really on top form with these tyres, they're clearly difficult and he could turn them on. You could see at various times he held and controlled the gap with Fernando and if we prompted him a bit he could go purple [set fastest laps] and it was classic Lewis, very much in control of his pace and very much in control of the race as a consequence."

Whitmarsh said Hamilton's ability to come out of his final stop and immediately start lapping at a faster pace than Alonso should have prompted Ferrari to react.

"Lewis fired up the tyres, he's driving so well at the moment, and as we can see with everyone it's a very fine window with these tyres and you have to get them up to the operating range and temperature very quickly and Lewis can really get the fronts fired in very quickly and he was able to do that. Suddenly within the second flying lap he was going purple and frankly at that point I would have thought that Ferrari would not try the adventure anymore and they would have seen they couldn't make the gap on Lewis.

"Therefore there was a lot of risk in what they were trying to do, they weren't going to win and I was surprised they didn't come in. Obviously I'm delighted they didn't and they have their own data and it's difficult under those circumstances. I think they were in a little bit of a dither between themselves and Vettel and I think you can get transfixed by a skirmish with another car and not see the bigger picture."

But despite Hamilton's strong race in Canada, Whitmarsh is not taking McLaren's pace for granted.

"I think, fantastically for the fans, it further muddies it [the title race]. We leave here with Lewis leading the championship and he's had some bad luck. I think it was a great drive and Lewis had the fastest race pace without doubt and was in control all the way through that race. So today we were strong and I wish I could guarantee we'll be strong in Valencia, but I can't. We'll try our best and I think Lewis will be fired up. It's seven winners out of seven and I think we're running out of options for new winners so we're going to have to have a duplicate."