Clutch problem hampered Hamilton's Melbourne start
21 March 2012 – It has been revealed that Lewis Hamilton suffered a clutch problem at the start of the Australian Grand Prix – a crucial factor which allowed race-winning team-mate Jenson Button to seize the lead on the run to the first corner.
Hamilton had notched up his 20th Formula 1 pole position but, despite Button selecting second gear too soon when the red lights when out, the 2009 World Champion was still able to overhaul his title predecessor. Hamilton then lost a further position when Sebastian Vettel took advantage of the Safety Car.
“Yeah, after the race in Australia it was difficult to understand exactly what happened,” Hamilton, whose dejection was clearly demonstrated on the Melbourne podium, explained in Malaysia on Wednesday.
“I was generally happy with the car all weekend, but just lacked a bit of pace compared to Jenson in the race. Afterwards, I sat down with my engineers and we went through all the data. There was a small issue with the clutch at the start; it wasn’t my fault, but we now understand and know how to improve in the future.
“My race pace was pretty much identical to Jenson’s, but he was able to switch the tyres on extremely well, which explains how he was able to pull a gap so quickly at the start and also after the restart. It’s encouraging and reassuring to understand the reasons for our race pace in Australia and it puts me in a really positive frame of mind for the race in Malaysia.”
McLaren is yet to enjoy a pole position in Malaysia and Hamilton is also aiming for an improved race result at Sepang; after finishing second in a team one-two in 2007, he has failed to come home higher than fifth in the past four races.
Further feelings from McLaren on Wednesday:
Button: Melbourne win was unexpected