• European Grand Prix

Hamilton concerned McLaren has lost ground

ESPNF1 Staff
June 26, 2011 « Button hurt by KERS failure | »
Lewis Hamilton: "To be able to finish fourth is still a good result" © Sutton Images

After finishing fourth at the European Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton admitted McLaren may have taken a step backwards compared to its rivals.

Hamilton qualified third, but finished 46 seconds adrift of race winner and championship leader Sebastian Vettel on Sunday as he struggled with tyre degradation in the hot temperatures.

"It seems like we've taken a step backwards, perhaps, this weekend in terms of performance, or the others have taken a step forwards," he told BBC Sport. "To be able to finish fourth is still a good result though - and 12 points is a decent haul after the last two races - so I can't really complain."

He added: "I think we're quite a bit down on downforce, we've not made an upgrade for several weeks now. We've had upgrades on the front wing for example, but for me rear downforce is where we are really struggling."

He said the situation could get worse at the British Grand Prix in two weeks when the FIA is planning to clampdown on off-throttle exhaust blown diffusers.

"I think at the next race we will be really struggling," Hamilton said. "I think once we lose the engine map, we may seem some differences there."

He said the tyres had been difficult to manage in the heat at Valencia and that had cost him performance compared to his rivals.

"I got a poor start and lost out to both Ferraris, but in all honesty we weren't as quick as the Ferraris so even if I was ahead of them I would have really struggled. The guys were asking me to stay out longer and I was saying I was trying to look after the tyres as best I can, so this is all I can do. I was pushing all the way, but my tyres, I was really struggling with those for a long time."