• German Grand Prix

Whitmarsh defends Hamilton's attempt to unlap himself

ESPN Staff
July 23, 2012 « McLaren has momentum to make comeback - Whitmarsh | Raikkonen hopes for victory in Hungarian heat »
Lewis Hamilton unlapped himself from Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull © Sutton Images

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has defended Lewis Hamilton's eagerness to unlap himself from Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso at the German Grand Prix.

Despite being a lap down, Hamilton became a key factor in the battle for the lead after he rejoined the track behind Vettel after his second pit stop. An early puncture had dropped Hamilton down the order, but he was able to match the pace of the front runners and managed to unlap himself from Vettel. However, in doing so he slowed the Red Bull and after the race Vettel said the move was unnecessary.

"That was not nice of him. I don't see the point why he's trying to race us. If he wants to go fast he can drop back, find a gap and go fast there. But it's a bit stupid to disturb the leaders. He was a lap down so I don't see the point anyways. I think that potentially lost us the position to Jenson [at the next pit stop]."

Once past Vettel, Hamilton went on to try and unlap himself from race leader Alonso, but the Ferrari driver managed to hold him off and said it helped him stay ahead of Vettel in second.

"For me, it was a good position to have Hamilton between me and Sebastian because we were approaching the pit stop time and having Hamilton there meant that Hamilton was around a second behind me and Sebastian was another second or 1.5s behind Lewis. So this 2.5s to Sebastian was very good, approaching the pit stop time so I tried to keep Lewis behind."

When Whitmarsh was asked whether Hamilton's decision to try and unlap himself was stupid, the McLaren boss defended his driver.

"Racing drivers race. If that's stupid, I don't know what isn't. He was quicker and he overtook [Vettel] and he pulled away. So I'm not quite sure where the stupidity is in that."

Red Bull boss Christian Horner said it was frustrating, but admitted there was nothing wrong with Hamilton's move.

"If you look at the rules there is nothing that says a car can't unlap itself. The unfortunate thing for us was that it cost us a second and unfortunately it didn't cost Fernando a second as well. If he'd unlapped himself from Fernando it would have negated the disadvantage of being unlapped. But there's nothing in the rules that says you can't do that so it's frustrating for us at that stage of the race to drop a second when you are fighting over hundredths and fractions of a second with the lead car."