FORMULA ONE: Tyre strategy cost us victory, admits McLaren
SCREW UP: Bad day at the office says team boss Whitmarsh
VALENCIA, SPAIN: McLAREN have admitted a poor strategy and mismanagement of tyres contributed heavily towards the team's downfall at the European Grand Prix.
Neither McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton nor Jenson Button were able to match the frontrunners for pace at the Valencia street circuit on Sunday.
Hamilton wound up in the barriers on the penultimate lap after a controversial battle for third with Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado of Williams, while teammate Button rescued four points for the team coming home eighth thanks to additional retirements from Red Bull driver German Sebastian Vettel and Frenchman Romain Grosjean of Lotus.
Although Maldonado was later blamed for crashing into the 2008 champion by way of a 20-second penalty, McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh admitted that Hamilton, 27, who had struggled for speed throughout the race, would not have had the pace to sustain his position.
"It was a bad day in the office and I think we really struggled with the tyres," he explained.
Whitmarsh agreed with the stewards' decision to penalise Maldonado, but hinted that he thought Hamilton could have avoided the incident if he had driven differently.
"My own view is that it was Maldonado's fault, and it is deeply frustrating -- but he is a racing driver and that is it."
However, in spite of his crash, Hamilton, who qualified second, struggled for speed throughout the race and could do nothing to stop early pace-setter Vettel or eventual race-winner Spaniard Fernando Alonso from extending their leads.
Whitmarsh played down any significance of this and put faith in his team to be back in the running at the British Grand Prix in two weeks time.
"When your competitors are showing that sort of pace it is always a concern, but I think we know well this year that what determines the underlying pace of the cars is quite challenging and quite difficult.
"We have to keep pushing. It is a tough old motor racing season this one and this race wasn't helpful, but we will keep pushing and see what we need to do.
"You have to score the points and keep at it. So we have to develop the car, master the tyres, understand them, and keep them in good condition." AFP