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The McLaren-Mercedes team endured a difficult Monaco Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton finishing in the points in 5th place while Jenson Button failed to bring his car home, being classified in 16th place after having spent the better part of his race behind the Caterham of Heikki Kovalainen.
McLaren had one of their toughest qualifying sessions of the season on Saturday. Lewis Hamilton would start the race from 3rd place on the grid having struggled to make the tyres work during low-speed corners. Jenson Button meanwhile endured a difficult session as well, having been eliminated in Q2. The McLaren of Button would start from 12th place on the grid. With Hamilton starting from the 2nd row there was always the chance of McLaren fighting for victory.
As the race began, Hamilton was quickly on the pace and was chasing the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg. The Briton was also involved in an exciting battle with Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari. Hamilton would lose track position to Alonso, who would get past after delaying his pit stop. However, before the pit stop a relentless pursuit by Alonso who kept the hammer down to set a string of fastest laps to close in on Hamilton, which allowed him to put in a lightning quick lap when Hamilton pitted. Hamilton then lost another place to the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel due to another piece of sharp work in the pits from the Austrian team, and ended being forced to settle for 5th place.
Button in contrast started his race on the soft tyres, aiming to go long in the race before his first pit stop. His start was a dramatic one as he had to avoid the spinning Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi into the first corner. This dropped the Briton to 14th place on the grid, and he found it difficult to move ahead. The Englishman was running as high as 8th place before his first pit stop. With rain expected any moment, he pitted to come back out in 14th on the super-soft tyres behind the Caterham of Heikki Kovalainen. The Briton though was forced to sit behind the Caterham for the rest of his race, unable to pass the slower car. Eventually, he spun his car trying to pass Kovalainen near the swimming pool section. This brought an early end to a difficult race for Button who was fortunate to be classified in 16th.
Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: â€œThis yearâ€™s Monaco Grand Prix wonâ€™t go down as one of the most triumphant in McLarenâ€™s glorious Monte-Carlo history â€“ since, although Lewis finished just four seconds behind Mark [Webber] today, in truth the smallness of that deficit was partly occasioned by the unique combination of the driversâ€™ need to drive with tyre conservation in mind and a circuit on which overtaking is well-nigh impossible. As a consequence, Mark was able to back the field up in the closing stages, without risking his lead. Still, Lewis scored a useful 10 points, and lies only 13 points off the driversâ€™ world championship lead.
â€œJenson had a frustrating afternoon, striving to make up ground from 12th on the grid, the result of which was ultimately a lap-71 DNF.
"Our next stop will be Montreal, another non-purpose-built racetrack, but one on which overtaking is at least feasible. Jenson won brilliantly there last year, and Lewis won superbly there the year before â€“ so, although we werenâ€™t able to add to our unrivalled record of 15 wins here at Monaco this afternoon, you can rest assured that in two weeksâ€™ time weâ€™ll be aiming to score a hat-trick of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Canadian Grand Prix victories.â€
Lewis Hamilton: â€œI had a pretty poor start â€“ I didnâ€™t understand why that happened â€“ and I was lucky not to get caught up in the first-corner crash. During the race, I struggled in the low-speed corners and found looking after the rear tyres tough. To make them last as long as we did, while trying to keep up with the pace of the guys in front, was one of the trickiest things Iâ€™ve had to do in a race.
â€œI lost time at my pitstop and gave away a place to Fernando [Alonso], and then Sebastian [Vettel] was able to get past me after he made his own stop. After that, it was impossible to overtake. Today wasnâ€™t the best result for me â€“ I really dislike going backwards in a race â€“ but I think I got everything I could out of the car.
â€œWe came away with some points, and there are many more races ahead, but weâ€™ve definitely got some work to do because, race by race, weâ€™re struggling to keep up with the leaders. The other teams are picking up serious pace, too. We canâ€™t let them pull away from us â€“ but weâ€™re a fantastic team, weâ€™ll knuckle down together, and weâ€™ll really push on now.â€
Jenson Button: â€œAt the start, Kamui [Kobayashi] almost landed on top of me because heâ€™d been launched off someone else. Then I almost got stuck at the exit of Sainte DÃ©vote, but I just managed to squeeze through.
â€œAfter my stop, I got caught behind Heikki [Kovalainen] â€“ we werenâ€™t really fighting, but if you position your car in the right place around here then itâ€™s impossible to overtake. Thatâ€™s quite frustrating when youâ€™re so much quicker than the guy in front. Finally, I had a look up the inside of Turn 15 [Swimming Pool exit], we touched, and I had a puncture. Game over.
â€œTodayâ€™s result stems from a poor qualifying performance and being unlucky at the start. Also, when you start from the mid-grid, youâ€™re more prone to incidents.
â€œIt wasnâ€™t my day today â€“ but hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.â€
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