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HAMILTON LEADS AT SOAKING SEPANG

Lewis Hamilton made amends for his poor start in Australia a week ago with a clean getaway in today's Malaysian Grand Prix.

Hamilton was passed by McLaren team-mate Jenson Button on the run down to the first corner at Melbourne's Albert Park, which proved defining as the latter went on to win the race.

But on this occasion Hamilton's launch was spot on as he kept his compatriot behind him as the field made its was down the second longest run into a first corner of all the current F1 tracks.

The start was given added spice by the fact that just 20 minutes earlier rain began to fall.

Although there was also thunder and lightning in the air, it was fortunately nothing torrential to lead to a safety car start.

But with the circuit wet enough it prompted all teams to switch to the intermediate tyres to cope with the surface water.

From his highest grid slot of third for Mercedes since coming out of retirement, Michael Schumacher dropped to 16th at the end of the first lap after being hit by Lotus' Romain Grosjean on lap one.

After three laps Hamilton held by 1.9secs to Button, the British duo followed by the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso fifth and Schumacher 13th.

Grosjean's race then came to an end on lap four as he spun off into the gravel.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa had led the way on to extreme wet tyres at the end of the third lap, and several others followed suit after the fourth lap.

Among them were Button and Alonso, along with a number of midfield runners, before Hamilton made his move on to the extreme wets, as did Webber and Vettel after five laps.

It resulted in Hamilton emerging narrowly ahead of Button, but as the rain then grew heavier in intensity - and as a loud clap of thunder boomed overhead - it brought out the safety car after six laps.

The running order at that stage was Hamilton, Button, Sauber's Sergio Perez, Webber, Alonso, Vettel and Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne, who was still on the intermediate tyre.

Behind the Frenchman came Massa in eighth, Mercedes' Nico Rosberg and HRT's Narain Karthikeyan in 10th as he had started on extreme wet tyres.

On lap nine, with the rain unrelenting, the call was made by race director Charlie Whiting to suspend the grand prix, resulting in the cars lining up on the grid in their current running order.

Given the propensity for the conditions in this part of the world - in 2009 the race was halted because of the rain after 31 of the 56 laps - the teams came prepared by erecting awnings over their cars.

After 30 minutes stationary on the grid it became apparent the rain and gloom were lifting, resulting in the medical car taking to the track to check out the conditions.

Then came the announcement from race control the grand prix would resume at 1715 local time, and that wet tyres had to be fitted.
 

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ALONSO WINS IN SEPANG RAIN

Fernando Alonso lifted Ferrari out of the doldrums with his 28th career victory at the end of a rain-hit Malaysian Grand Prix.

Following a 50-minute delay after the race had been halted at the end of nine laps due to the wet conditions, it was Alonso who went on to master the elements at the Sepang International Circuit.

The Spaniard was pushed to the limit by Mexico's Sergio Perez, whose mistake on lap 50 arguably cost him a maiden race win for Sauber.

Perez, a member of Ferrari's young driver academy and linked with taking up the underperforming Felipe Massa's seat, claimed second place, collecting more points in this one race than he did throughout all of last season.

In a Ferrari that has so far been poor by the team's usual high standards, Alonso's win means he now leads the championship by five points from McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who was forced to settle for third place after starting from pole for the second successive race.

No rain had fallen on Sepang since Thursday, ensuring practice and qualifying remained dry, however, 20 minutes prior to the start it decided to make an appearance.

It was only light at first, with all teams bar HRT switching to intermediate Pirelli tyres - with more of a groove to cope with the conditions - whilst the Spanish marque opted for extremes.

At least there was no safety car start, and when the red lights disappeared Hamilton made amends for his poor effort in Australia with a clean getaway, keeping compatriot Jenson Button behind him.

But over the opening laps the rain steadily grew in intensity, forcing virtually all drivers to make the move on to extremes.

Come the end of lap six race director Charlie Whiting sent out the safety car, and on lap nine opted to suspend the race as it had clearly become too dangerous to continue.

At that point the field had been reduced to 23 cars, with Lotus' Romain Grosjean spinning into the gravel on lap four, and that after colliding with Michael Schumacher early on lap one.

From his highest grid position of third since coming out of retirement to join Mercedes ahead of the 2010 campaign, the 43-year-old was sent plummeting to 16th at that point.

The weather resulted in the 50-minute delay before the grand prix resumed again behind the safety car and with all cars instructed to be on wet tyres.

Initially there were four laps behind the safety car up until the end of lap 13, and immediately Button made the call to dive into the pits to take on inters, as did a number of others.

As with previous astute decisions in the past it appeared to be the right call.

Although emerging just behind Alonso, Button had done enough to get ahead of Hamilton, but not for long as on lap 15 he collided with the HRT of Narain Karthikeyan, losing the right end of his front wing.

It necessitated another stop, arguably robbing him of heat from his tyres because it was not long before he complained he could not get them to work, resulting in a fourth trip into the pits after 24 laps.

As the race then unfolded it appeared at one stage as if Alonso would go on to comfortably take the chequered flag, only for the remarkable Perez to close to within 1.3secs after 40 laps.

At that point the call was being made for teams to move their drivers on to dry tyres, and whilst Alonso did so, Perez stayed out - the team's error on that occasion.

Clearly quicker than the Ferrari, Perez closed to within 0.5secs at one stage, but then came his mistake, running wide at turn 14 and that was enough to ease the pressure on Alonso and give him the win.

Behind the top three Red Bull's Mark Webber was fourth for the second consecutive race, followed by Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen and Williams' Bruno Senna, a career-high result of sixth.

Force India's Paul di Resta grabbed seventh ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne for Toro Rosso, Nico Hulkenberg in his Force India, and then Schumacher.

A blown tyre after colliding with Karthikeyan a few laps from home robbed Vettel of points as he finished 11th, whilst Button was down in 14th, the race in stark contrast to his win Down Under seven days ago.

Alonso naturally admitted his win was "a big surprise," but knows there is more work ahead as it was not representative of their current performance.

"We weren't competitive here nor in Australia," said Alonso.

"Our goal is to score as many points as possible and today we've scored 25, so an unbelievable result for the team.

"We kept calm in extreme conditions, and congratulations to the team. They deserve this result.

"But nothing changes for us to be honest. We're in a position we don't want, fighting to get into Q3 and fighting to score points rather than victories.

"These first two races are positive, and going into the next few races there is stuff coming to improve the car, so we will see."

As for Perez, he appreciated he should have been celebrating the win as he said: "I was catching Fernando towards the end.

"It was not easy, and then I ran wide, touched the kerb went into the wet and I lost the win, probably

"But the team has done an incredible job. I'm very happy for them."

Opposed to last week's unhappiness at third, on this occasion Hamilton declared himself "satisfied".

"We would love to have had more points this weekend," said Hamilton.

"But I can't complain, I'm on the podium, I stayed out of trouble with the conditions constantly changing."
 

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CHINESE GP GRID POSITIONS

1 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1min 35.121secs

2 Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:35.691

3 Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) Sauber-Ferrari 1:35.784

4 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Lotus F1 Team 1:35.898

5 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 1:36.191

6 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:36.290

7 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) McLaren 1:35.6268*

8 Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.524

9 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 1:36.622

10 Romain Grosjean (Swi) Lotus F1 Team 1:35.903

11 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1:36.031

12 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 1:36.255

13 Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams 1:36.283

14 Bruno Senna (Bra) Williams 1:36.289

15 Paul di Resta (Gbr) Force India 1:36.317

16 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India 1:36.745

17 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:36.956

18 Jean-Eric Vergne (Fra) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:37.714

19 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Caterham 1:38.463

20 Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Caterham 1:38.677

21 Timo Glock (Ger) Marussia 1:39.282

22 Charles Pic (Fra) Marussia 1:39.717

23 Pedro de la Rosa (Spa) HRT-F1 1:40.411

24 Narain Karthikeyan (Ind) HRT-F1 1:41.000

*Hamilton handed five-place penalty for gearbox change
 

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CHINA GLORY FOR ROSBERG

Nico Rosberg took the chequered flag for the first time in his Formula One career to give Mercedes their first victory since the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio in 1955.

After claiming pole in his 111th grand prix yesterday, Rosberg enjoyed a relatively smooth ride in winning the Chinese Grand Prix, even after losing team-mate Michael Schumacher early on after a pit-stop error.

Behind the 26-year-old German, however, it proved to be a real battle for the other placings, with Jenson Button claiming second ahead of McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton has now taken over leadership of the standings by two points from Button - 45 compared to 43 - with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso third, eight points adrift.

Appreciably, Rosberg and the Mercedes team were ecstatic as he crossed the line 20.6secs clear of Button, with Hamilton 5.3secs further down the road at the Shanghai International Circuit.

With Mercedes starting on the front row - courtesy of Hamilton's five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change - the start was as comfortable as could be as the duo filed away in procession once the five red lights disappeared to signal the start.

The hopes of a double for Mercedes in the race, however, came crashing down on lap 14 within moments of Schumacher's first pit stop.

It should have been routine, but instead Schumacher was released when the front-right nut had seemingly not been fitted correctly, the member of the pit crew in that position slapping the ground in frustration once the seven-time champion had pulled away.

Just 30 seconds later Schumacher was trundling off the circuit, the disappointment obvious in his voice as he said: "Nothing I could do guys. Out of the race."

The stewards are to launch an investigation post-race into the incident, citing an unsafe release.

At that stage Schumacher was acting as a buffer in second place, allowing Rosberg to build up a small time cushion whilst Button, Raikkonen and Hamilton loomed large behind him.

The two Britons were the prime movers at the start, with the duo both making up two places as Button elevated himself from fifth to third and Hamilton from seventh to fifth.

Behind them the Red Bulls went backwards as Mark Webber fell from sixth to ninth and reigning champion Sebastian Vettel losing four places in falling to 15th.

That had followed his worst qualifying performance yesterday for 42 races, starting outside the top 10 for the first time since the Brazilian Grand Prix of 2009.

Beyond Schumacher's pit-stop calamity, it proved plain sailing for Rosberg as Mercedes were able to control the race from the front, covering their rivals' pit stops.

For some, like Rosberg, it was two stops, others such as Button, Hamilton and Webber in fourth, it was three.

In leading from the front Rosberg had the edge and one of F1's master tacticians in team principal Ross Brawn could make the right calls.

With Rosberg running away with it at the front, the closing laps were a frenetic affair, with Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen dropping like a stone on worn tyres, finishing 14th after running second with five to play.

It was a similar story for Vettel as he too was up to second late on, but in quick succession he was overtaken by Button, Hamilton and Webber to wind up fifth, albeit improvement on his starting position.

Delighted team principal Brawn said: "It was stunning. We still had the fear with the tyres but he used them perfectly.

"It's just a tragedy we had the problem with Michael because he would have been in great shape too.

"We have started a new adventure. I have been lucky to have a lot of special days, and this is certainly a special one."

As for Rosberg, he was beaming from ear to ear as he said: "This is an unbelievable feeling. I'm very happy, very excited.

"It's been a long time coming for me, and for the team also, for the past two years and a bit.

"It's finally there. It's amazing, and it's nice to see now how quickly we are progressing."

Button conceded his third and final pit stop proved costly as a problem with the left rear held him up considerably.

"I think I lost nine to 10 seconds, which is a pity because when I exited the pits I had four cars ahead of me I wouldn't have been racing. Otherwise I would have had a nice, clear track," Button said.

"All in all it was a fun day. I really enjoyed it, some good overtaking out there and to come away with some good points is great."

Hamilton offered his congratulations to Rosberg initially as he said: "He did a fantastic job - your first pole and first win is and incredible feeling.

"But I'm very happy to have made it to the podium (third for the third consecutive race).

"I said I wanted to move forward. The team did a great job during the pit stops and with strategy, there was a lot of overtaking, so a fantastic day."
 

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CHINESE GRAND PRIX RESULT

F1 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1hr 36mins 26.929secs

2 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 1:36:47.555

3 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) McLaren 1:36:52.941

4 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:36:54.853

5 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1:36:57.412

6 Romain Grosjean (Swi) Lotus F1 Team 1:36:58.420

7 Bruno Senna (Bra) Williams 1:37:01.526

8 Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams 1:37:02.572

9 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 1:37:04.185

10 Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) Sauber-Ferrari 1:37:05.649

11 Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari 1:37:07.995

12 Paul di Resta (Gbr) Force India 1:37:09.202

13 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 1:37:09.708

14 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Lotus F1 Team 1:37:17.502

15 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India 1:37:18.142

16 Jean-Eric Vergne (Fra) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:37:18.685

17 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:37:30.085

18 Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Caterham at 1 Lap

19 Timo Glock (Ger) Marussia at 1 Lap

20 Charles Pic (Fra) Marussia at 1 Lap

21 Pedro de la Rosa (Spa) HRT-F1 at 1 Lap

22 Narain Karthikeyan (Ind) HRT-F1 at 2 Laps

23 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Caterham at 3 Laps

Not Classified:

24 Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 12 Laps completed
 

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VETTEL BACK ON POLE IN BAHRAIN

Sebastian Vettel will be on pole position for the 31st time in his Formula One career after grabbing top spot on the grid for Sunday's controversial Bahrain Grand Prix.

After a record-breaking 15 poles last season, Vettel had failed to get anywhere near the front row in 2012 - the 24-year-old was even a miserable 11th in China last Saturday, his worst performance for 42 races.

But from nowhere, Vettel and Red Bull have managed to find some speed this past week, leading to the German producing his traditional raised index finger celebration once he emerged from his car at Sakhir.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was forced to settle for second, just 0.098seconds behind Vettel's pole lap of one minute 32.422secs, with their respective team-mates Mark Webber and Jenson Button on the second row in third and fourth.

A smiling Vettel said: "It feels great, which I owe to the team.

"It's not been an easy start to the season, but what we have done here is what we expect from ourselves.

"We've been busy working on the car, trying to find the right solution, with the boys hardly getting any sleep over the last four race weekends.

"They've certainly not had much here, but the car is much better and it's great to have just beaten Lewis for pole."

After being on pole at the first two races, and qualifying second in China before a five-place penalty, Hamilton declared himself "happy" again with the job he had done.

"I've a good set up all weekend, and although my Q3 wasn't spectacular, we just have to keep on pushing," said Hamilton.

Webber, who had qualified ahead of Vettel at the first three races, said: "In the end we're satisfied to be towards the front.

"There have previously been some big gaps to the opposition, so it's pretty surprising to be as competitive as we are on a track that does not play to our strengths.

"But we're at the front, I'm pleased for the guys, and we can have a good race from there."

It was a qualifying session that took place against a surreal backdrop of virtually empty grandstands in light of the unrest in the Gulf kingdom that has overshadowed this event.

Last weekend's polesitter and debut race winner Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes could only manage fifth, followed by an astonishing performance from Daniel Ricciardo in sixth for Toro Rosso.

Lotus' Romain Grosjean starts seventh, followed by the Sauber of Sergio Perez, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Paul di Resta in his Force India.

The Silverstone-based team were not shown once during the session by Formula One Management, who control the television feed.

It has been suggested that was in response to their decision not to take part in second practice on Friday due to safety concerns for their staff after four were involved in a petrol-bomb incident on Wednesday.

To underline the competitive nature of qualifying these days, the top 15 drivers in Q2 were covered by a second.

Kimi Raikkonen was its prime casualty, ironically dumped down out of the top 10 by team-mate Grosjean, who was third quickest in the session with half a second covering them.

Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi and Nico Hulkenberg for Force India line up 12th and 13th, ahead of Ferrari's two-time winner here Felipe Massa, but who again failed to make Q3, while Williams' Bruno Senna lines up 15th.

After starting from second on the grid on Sunday in Shanghai, Michael Schumacher will be forced to fight his way through the field from 17th after being knocked out in Q1.

A combination of factors resulted in his surprise early exit, most notably a DRS failure, which can be used for almost half of a lap in qualifying compared to just one overtaking point in a race.

The seven-times champion also made an error on his one hot lap and then Mercedes clearly thought he was safe, with it all adding up to a qualifying disaster.

While Schumacher sat in his garage seemingly preparing for Q2, his name slowly tumbled down the timesheet as a number of others switched to the softer, faster Pirelli compound.

Ultimately, in the dying seconds, it was Heikki Kovalainen in his Caterham who dumped Schumacher out of Q1, with the Finn 16th.

Williams' Pastor Maldonado qualified 17th, but drops to 22nd due to incurring a five-place penalty for a gearbox change.

Behind Schumacher will be Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne, Vitaly Petrov in his Caterham, Marussia's Charles Pic and HRT's Pedro de la Rosa, who all move up a place courtesy of Maldonado.

On the back row will be Timo Glock in his Marussia and Narain Karthikeyan for HRT.
 

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SEBASTIAN VETTEL WINS IN BAHRAIN

Sebastian Vettel became the fourth different winner of a Grand Prix this year by taking the chequered flag in Bahrain.

Not since 2006 has F1 witnessed such a start to a campaign, with the reigning world champion claiming his 22nd career victory.

Behind the German, Lotus enjoyed their best race of the season as Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean joined Vettel on the podium.

It was a disastrous race for McLaren, though, with Lewis Hamilton eighth after two pit-stop issues, whilst Jenson Button retired a lap from home.

It was a race, though, many felt should never have taken place, given the unrest in the Gulf island in the build-up, and the escalation in demonstrations that have occurred this week.

So to have reached the chequered flag will be seen as a triumph of sorts for the ruling al-Khalifa royal family and King Hamad, against whom many of the protests are being staged.

In the end the race itself passed peacefully, despite rumours leading opposition party al-Wefaq had purchased tickets and had planned a protest inside the track.

In front of a half-full main grandstand, and with every other stand empty, polesitter Vettel crushed his rivals after starting at the front for the 31st time in his career.

Alongside him on the grid Hamilton had no answer, and although he managed to hold second in the opening stages, that was soon given up to Grosjean at the start of lap seven.

Hamilton's problems, though, were only just beginning because at his first pit stop after nine laps he suffered the same problem as befell team-mate Button in China last week, a slow stop due to an issue with the left rear.

If that was not bad enough, at his second stop after another 14 laps, a rear jack problem caused another delay, pitching the 27-year-old down to 11th.

Hamilton only managed to claw back three places through the second half of the race, costing him his championship lead, dropping him to second and four points behind Vettel.

Ahead of him the 24-year-old German appeared comfortable en route to his latest success, that was until after the 30-lap mark as he found himself reeled in by Raikkonen.

The Finn, however, could not find a way past over the following laps, and when the two leaders pitted at the same time, it was Raikkonen's fourth and final set of tyres that were not as strong as his third.

Although told over the radio Vettel would suffer from degradation towards the end, it failed to materialise, instead winning by a 3.3secs cushion come the conclusion of the 57 laps, with Grosjean a further 6.8secs adrift.

Remarkably, Vettel's team-mate in Mark Webber finished fourth for the fourth consecutive race, yet despite that only finds himself five points behind in the standings.

Nico Rosberg grabbed fifth, although could lose that as stewards are to investigate two dangerous moves, swerving violently to try and keep Hamilton and Alonso behind him at two different stages.

On a superb two-stop strategy, compared to three for the leaders, Paul di Resta was sixth in a Force India that today received some TV coverage after the blank of yesterday.

Behind Alonso in seventh and Hamilton, Ferrari's Felipe Massa picked up his first points of the season, with Mercedes' Michael Schumacher 10th after starting 22nd.

Vettel conceded to enduring "a difficult race", in particular given his fuel situation towards the end.

Vettel was relieved "the strategy worked", adding: "As I said yesterday, a tremendous thank you to the boys who have done a great job to get the car to my liking.

"It all came together for the first time this weekend. All in all I'm extremely happy."

Achieving his best result since winning in Belgium in 2009, Raikkonen said: "We've both gained podiums and the team deserve what we achieved.

"It's a positive result for the team and an important step."

Celebrating his first podium in F1, Grosjean said: "I'm very proud of the team.

"We've shown our car is very competitive, in what has so far been a very tight season. Overall we can be very happy with what we've done."
 

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LEWIS HAMILTON LOSES POLE

Lewis Hamilton has been dramatically moved to the back of the grid for the Spanish Grand Prix after being excluded from a qualifying session in which he thought he had grabbed pole.

McLaren have been found guilty of a fuel irregularity under the current FIA technical regulations as Hamilton stopped on track after seemingly claiming the team's 150th pole in Formula One.

McLaren had cited force majeure and had hoped to remain on pole, but following a lengthy stewards' hearing the 27-year-old and the team have been handed a severe penalty.

An FIA statement read: "The stewards received a report from the race director (Charlie Whiting) which stated that during post-qualifying scrutineering a sample of fuel was required from car 4 (Hamilton).

"However, the car failed to return to the pits under its own power as required under article 6.6.2 of the FIA Formula One technical regulations.

"The stewards heard from the team representative, Mr Sam Michael, who stated that the car stopped on the circuit for reasons of force majeure.

"A team member had put an insufficient quantity of fuel into the car, thereby resulting in the car having to be stopped on the circuit in order to be able to provide the required amount for sampling purposes.

"As the amount of fuel put into the car is under the complete control of the competitor, the stewards cannot accept this as a case of force majeure.

"The stewards determine that this is a breach of article 6.2 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations and the competitor is accordingly excluded from the results of the qualifying session.

"The competitor is, however, allowed to start the race from the back of the grid."

A McLaren spokesman said: "We accept the stewards did not agree with our interpretation of force majeure.

"Our aim is now to maximise the points we can score tomorrow."

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh had earlier cited a technical issue was the root cause of the problem, although did not rule out human error.

Hamilton had just cruised to top spot on the grid, seemingly for the 22nd time in his F1 career, and third time this season.

The 27-year-old had deposed the unlikely figure of Williams' Pastor Maldonado from pole by 0.6secs with a blistering lap around Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

However, via the team radio, Hamilton was told to stop on track at around the halfway point on his slowing-down lap.

FIA rules state a car must return to the pits after qualifying, and then have a litre of fuel remaining for a sample to be taken.

Whitmarsh claimed 1.3 litres was ultimately extracted, but clearly the additional 0.3 litres - over and above the required one litre - would not have been enough to see Hamilton return to parc ferme.

Asked if there was no force majeure whether Hamilton could have driven back to parc ferme and then had enough fuel for a sample, Whitmarsh replied "yes" on both occasions.

The stewards have clearly deemed otherwise, citing the failure of a team member to adequately fill the car.

It is the latest in a catalogue of errors from McLaren this year, notably involving Hamilton.

In the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in which he started from pole, he was not released at the right time at a pit stop, eventually finishing third.

A week later in Malaysia, and again after claiming pole, there were issues at pit stops involving his rear-left and front-right tyres, and again was third.

In China, after qualifying second, Hamilton received a five-place grid penalty as his car required a new gearbox, and for the third consecutive race he wound up third.

Then in Bahrain three weeks ago, there were issues with his left-rear tyre at two separate pit stops, resulting in him finishing eighth and losing his lead of the drivers' championship.

Hamilton now faces a tricky task just to get into the points tomorrow.

Asked prior to the penalty as to his thoughts should he receive one - although at the time appreciating it was not going to be so harsh - Hamilton said: "Looking at our long runs they're not too bad.

"The option (soft) tyre was not too spectacular with the set-up I had yesterday, but we've made some changes so it should be better.

"The long run on the prime (hard) was very good, but then again it was the same for the other guys.

"Overtaking here is very tough, as we've seen in previous years, but we have the DRS so I would hope we can overtake...I highly doubt it.

"But I will obviously do everything I can to move up and forwards.

"Definitely the guys at the front have a much easier job because they have clearer air.

"Of course I'll give it my all, and we'll give it our all, and I hope with our improved pit stops as well we can make steps forward."

As for Williams, on the day the team celebrated Sir Frank's 70th birthday that officially was nearly four weeks ago, the present from the stewards was a welcome one.

For Maldonado, it is his first F1 pole, his highest grid slot by six places, and the team's first pole since Brazil 2010.

A naturally delighted Maldonado said: "It's a great moment for the team, for me, and it's the best present ever for Frank Williams.

"I hope to have a great race tomorrow. I'll do my best - we'll see.

"We have everything and I think the team must be ready for all the situations in the race.

"But the motivation is there, the mechanics are ready, we're all ready."
 

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MALDONADO REIGNS IN SPAIN

Pastor Maldonado ended Williams' long wait for a Formula One victory by taking a historic chequered flag in the Spanish Grand Prix.

Within a month of founder Sir Frank Williams' 70th birthday, this was the team's first win since the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix, 132 races ago.

Starting the weekend as a 300-1 outsider, Maldonado became the first Venezuelan to savour the winner's champagne, finishing just 3.1 seconds ahead of home favourite Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari.

And for only the second time in F1 - the other occasion in 1983 - there have been five different winners and fiver different constructors winning the first five grands prix.

Behind the leading duo Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus was a close-run third, running out of laps come the conclusion.

Behind them reigning champion Sebastian Vettel was sixth despite four trips to the pits, including a drive-through penalty for ignoring yellow flags following a smash involving Bruno Senna in the second Williams and Mercedes' Michael Schumacher.

The stewards are to investigate that incident later, with the seven-times champion seemingly the man at fault for running into the back of the Brazilian.

As for Lewis Hamilton, demoted to the back of the grid yesterday with his qualifying times excluded after stopping on track due to running with low fuel, he managed to make a two-stop strategy work by finishing eighth in his McLaren, one place ahead of team-mate Jenson Button.

Vettel now leads the championship on countback from Alonso, with the duo tied on points, with Hamilton falling eight points down.
 

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Formula 1- 2012


Williams backs Senna over qualifying
By Matt Beer

Williams believes Bruno Senna has a chance of turning his qualifying struggles around in next weekend's German Grand Prix after an encouraging Silverstone performance.

Senna has lacked qualifying pace throughout his first season at Williams so far, and is yet to start higher than 13th for the squad.

The Brazilian's team-mate Pastor Maldonado has made four Q3 appearances and inherited pole for the Spanish GP when Lewis Hamilton was penalised, before going on to convert that position into Williams's first Formula 1 victory in nearly eight years.

Although Senna started 13th again in Britain, he drove a strong race to ninth place. Williams's chief operations engineer Mark Gillan believes that performance, combined with a focus on single-lap pace in the team's simulator, will help Senna to perform better on Saturdays from Hockenheim.

"Bruno had a very good race and was particularly strong both at the start and in the last part of the race when he was fighting hard for the ninth place," said Gillan.

"We continue to work with Bruno in the simulator and with the race programme to help him optimise his qualifying pace and I think that he can take a lot of positives from Silverstone into Hockenheim."

Gillan reckons Senna would have shown better qualifying form in Britain if he had not been caught out by yellow flags for Romain Grosjean spinning his Lotus into the Vale gravel. Senna admitted that he was particularly cautious around the yellows in the wake of his recent issues.

"He was unlucky not to progress into the final qualifying session when his hot timed lap was severely compromised by the yellow flag," said Gillan.
 

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Bottas excited by young driver chance
By Pablo Elizalde

Valtteri Bottas says he is eager to get behind the wheel of the Williams Formula 1 car when he tests for two days at Silverstone from tomorrow.

The Finn, who has been the Grove squad's third driver this season, will take to the British track alongside the Marussia and HRT teams for the young driver test the three teams are carrying out at the British circuit.

Bottas will be in charge of driving duties on both days.

The test will take place on the Grand Prix Circuit on Thursday and the International layout on Friday.

"I'm really looking forward to the test this week," said Bottas. "In total I've only had four full test days in a Formula One car alongside the FP1 sessions this season, so I really want to get some good mileage in.

"We have some interesting things to test this week as well as a longer race simulation planned, which, provided the weather stays good, will be a great experience for me.

"I'm looking forward to being able to do some longer runs in the FW34, as well as strengthening my relationship with the engineers. It was wet on Friday at Silverstone so I hope it will stay dry this week as the track is really good fun to drive.

"I know the Grand Prix circuit quite well, but the International circuit will be a new challenge."
 

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Mark Webber: My British GP win, new Red Bull deal & Wimbledon
By Mark Webber Red Bull driver

It has been a pretty good week. I won the British Grand Prix on Sunday and then signed a new contract to continue with Red Bull Racing in 2013.

Although I did have talks with Ferrari , staying with Red Bull was the right thing to do.

I pretty much told Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz and team principal Christian Horner two or three years ago that I would finish my career with Red Bull.

I'm sure everyone understands the lure of racing for Ferrari, but in the end there were just too many pros to staying at Red Bull Racing - it was as simple as that.

I've been there since 2007, just two years after the team was formed, and we have built a fantastic team.

We've won the last two drivers' and constructors' championships and we're right in the fight again this year.

It's very hard to turn your back on that sort of performance.

The fact that I am trying to win the championship this year was also a consideration - it would have been that bit harder to keep the momentum going if I was moving to a rival team.

That was a factor, but it was certainly not the biggest one.

Because I'm 36 this summer, people are always asking me when I'm going to retire. But I'm not thinking about that at all.

The contract is just for one year, but I'm looking to stay in F1 for longer than that.

"It's an immensely challenging job trying to get the best out of a Formula 1 car [and] it doesn't get much better than what happened on Sunday."

I watched an interview with Ryan Giggs the other day and he was saying that you relax and enjoy it a bit more as you get older.

You know you're closer to the end than the beginning, so you want to make the most of the situation you're in.

You try to do that bit more, you perform better because you're that bit wiser and you get better results, so you end up staying longer anyway.

It's an immensely challenging job trying to get the best out of a Formula 1 car and I'm competing with the best drivers in the world.

It doesn't get much better than what happened on Sunday - how we won and who we beat. I have a lot of respect for Fernando Alonso.

I said to a friend the other day: "That was a nice podium shot from Silverstone - with Fernando on the right and Sebastian Vettel on the left."

How do you replace that when you're not racing any more? Hopefully, I won't have to find an answer to that question for a while.

WINNING AT SILVERSTONE
Mark Webber

Unpredictable weather conditions made it a tough weekend for drivers

The changeable weather made the British Grand Prix a challenging weekend for the teams, drivers and fans, and winning it was especially satisfying.

We went into the race with many more unknowns than usual and it was bizarre how it unfolded. If you were a betting man, before the second pit stops you'd have said Ferrari had done everything right.

I would never have thought Fernando would struggle so much on the 'soft' tyre at the end of the race when we were on the 'hard' tyre.

When my engineer Ciaron Pilbeam said to me on the radio that Fernando's pace wasn't great, I was thinking: 'Aw, he's just giving it an easy time, if I push a bit more, he'll go'. But he didn't.

Sunday's win was Webber's second Silverstone victory in three years, after he finished in P1 in 2010
He has now finished on the podium for four consecutive British Grand Prix
Webber did not enjoy early success at Silverstone, he retired from half of his first six Formula 1 races at Silverstone

Unusually for 2012, it was a race where balance was more important than managing the tyres.

There were still problems with the rear tyres towards the end of the stints, but it wasn't anywhere near as bad as it is at other tracks.

It was quite an aggressive two-stop race. We weren't going ballistic flat-out but it was a pretty tasty race pace-wise.

I'm not a big one for hangovers, so I took it easy at the party on Sunday night and now I'm ready for Hockenheim next week.

SALUTING AN ALL-TIME GREAT

I'm a big tennis fan and Wimbledon was going to be a good-news final whatever happened.

If Andy Murray managed to pull it off, it would have been a phenomenal effort given who he had to beat.

Roger Federer has had a phenomenal career to match Pete Sampras in winning seven Wimbledon singles titles.

Federer has been mentioned in the same breath as Pele and Muhammad Ali. For me, Ali will always be on his own, but Federer is a pretty classy customer in the way he carries himself.

What I also like about him is that he is so deceptive.

He could do a passable impression of an accountant, but when it comes to doing the job on the court, he knows how to rip someone's throat out when he needs to.

He goes for the jugular, which is what he did with Murray. He smelt some blood and he went for it.

The emotion Murray showed at the end is a little insight into how much top sportsmen put into it.
Roger Federer

Webber appreciates Federer as a "classy customer"

He's had a cauldron of emotion of people wanting him to do well over that period and it came to a head in the last few hours of the fortnight.

The circumstances just grabbed him a bit, which is good.

People assume we're all supposed to be mega with the media. Andy has his style. He's one hell of a tennis player and we'll see how he goes in the future.
 

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Mercedes results too up and down says Ross Brawn

Mercedes must achieve more consistent results, boss Ross Brawn has demanded ahead of the German Grand Prix.

He is unhappy at their inability to finish higher up the field in 2012, despite having a more competitive car than in the two previous seasons.

"Our performance has been up and down recently, ranging from podiums to lower points finishes," said Brawn.
Continue reading the main story

"We need to work hard to improve our level of consistency and ability to challenge at the front."

Last time out Mercedes finished seventh with Michael Schumacher and 15th with Nico Rosberg in the British Grand Prix, helping confirm former Ferrari team principal Brawn's concerns about consistency - Schumacher had finished on the podium in third two weeks' previously in Valencia.

This season Brackley-based Mercedes have, at times, been able to keep pace with front runners Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull, and they were dominant in China as Nico Rosberg secured his first career victory.

But their F1 W03 car appears to be more sensitive than its competitors to the differences found among the circuits in the Formula 1 calendar.

"The Hockenheim layout [the venue for the German Grand Prix on 22 July] should be more suited to the F1 W03 than the high-speed Silverstone layout," Brawn added.

"We are bringing some further improvements to the car which should help our performance."

Mercedes, whose factory is based near Hockenheim, will want to put on a good show for the German public, especially the talismanic Schumacher, who has born the brunt of the team's reliability problems this season.
Schumacher's 2012 race record

Britain - 7th
Valencia - 3rd
Canada - retired
Monaco - retired
Spain - retired
Bahrain - 10th
China - retired
Malaysia - 10th
Australia - retired

"As a German driver, you know that all the spectators in the grandstands are supporting you. That makes you proud, and always boosts your motivation even higher," said the seven-time world champion.

"This year is the first time that our Mercedes works team has been capable of racing right at the front and, because of that, we're hoping for lots of support from the fans and to reward them with our performance."

Schumacher's team-mate Rosberg echoed Brawn's view that the Hockenheim circuit will favour the Mercedes car, giving the team a better chance of success.

"I think our car should suit this track much better than Silverstone. Hockenheim has long straights and short corners, which will be good for the Silver Arrow," said Rosberg.

Meanwhile, Lotus driver Romain Grosjean has been handed a five-place grid penalty after gearbox problems in the last lap at Silverstone forced the team to change it for the German Grand Prix.
 

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Frijns completes first F1 run
By Glenn Freeman | Autosport – Sat, Jul 14, 2012 08:55 BST

Formula Renault 3.5 championship contender Robin Frijns had his maiden outing in a Formula 1 car on Saturday in a Red Bull RB6.

The Dutchman, who earned the run in the 2010 world championship winning car for being the highest placed FR3.5 driver not connected to an F1 team, had to wait until Saturday for his first laps as his planned acclimatisation run on Friday was cancelled due to a storm at the new Moscow Raceway.

Frijns, who took to the Russian track in the Red Bull just one hour after taking pole position for Saturday's FR3.5 race, completed a handful of laps, and will do the same again on Sunday.

"It was awesome," he told AUTOSPORT. "OK, it was on demo tyres, and it had a bit of understeer, but it was a great experience."

He also admitted that he was not too disappointed to have had his F1 running cut short this weekend, as it enables him to focus more on his FR3.5 racing.

"It was a shame about the storm, but I was a bit worried about driving the F1 car too much because it could affect me when I go back to the 3.5," he added.

"I don't want to get back in my race car and start having to think about braking points and how fast I can go round certain corners because I have to adapt and get used to it again. So maybe it's not such a bad thing."
 

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Webber gets gearbox change penalty
Mark Webber will be hit with a five-place grid penalty for the German Grand Prix because of a gearbox change.
By Autosport



Red Bull broke the overnight curfew at Hockenheim to investigate a problem that had been detected in the gearbox.

It was found that the issue could not be resolved, therefore Red Bull opted to change the box, which will trigger the five-place penalty. Gearboxes are required to last for five events between changes.

Webber is the second driver to run into gearbox trouble this weekend as Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg will also be penalised. Lotus's Romain Grosjean is also carrying the same penalty for a post-Silverstone gearbox change.

Regulations introduced last year prevent teams from being in the circuit for a six-hour period overnight between. At Hockenheim on Saturday morning, this ran from two o'clock until eight o'clock, but Red Bull needed the time to analyse the gearbox.

This is the first time that Red Bull has broken the curfew this season. As each team has four exemptions, no action will be taken.

At Silverstone two weeks ago, McLaren, Caterham and Marussia also broke the curfew.
 

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Perez handed penalty for impeding
By Matt Beer | Autosport

Sauber's Sergio Perez will be demoted five places on the German Grand Prix after stewards ruled that he had impeded other cars in qualifying.

The Mexican had qualified 12th, but was found guilty of blocking both Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso in Q2.

A statement from the stewards said the penalty was "imposed due to the driver being involved in two similar offences in the same session."

Perez is the fourth driver to be given a grid penalty for the Hockenheim race. Mark Webber, Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg are already facing five-place drops for unscheduled gearbox changes on their cars.
 

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Post-qualifying press conference
By Autosport –

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q.Well Fernando, give us some idea what it was like to be out there: fun? Difficult? Incredibly difficult?

FA: Not fun, that's for sure. I think the problem is that you don't know the conditions. It was similar in Silverstone. You wait five, seven minutes in the garage and then you have completely different grip and completely different standing water in places that you don't expect. So in the out-laps you try to memorise a little bit where the water is and how much to push, to feel a little bit with the car the grip. Then you start opening the lap you go surprise after surprise with the car, having moments everywhere, especially with aquaplaning into Turn Six. So, it was not easy qualifying for anybody, and at the end it was a good result but, as you ask, it was not fun for sure.

Q.But hugely satisfying, presumably, to be on pole?

FA: Yeah, very. I think when you have this type of conditions it's very difficult to put a clean lap together and it's very easy to finish in the gravel or to finish in the grass, the wall or whatever. So, those type of conditions are a little bit of a survival moment, that you need to finish the qualifying and see afterwards what position you get. You try to complete the lap, to avoid any problem, and then whatever the position is, you are happy, because you know you were at the maximum, or you felt that you were at the maximum. So when they tell you, you are on pole, it's obviously a very happy moment. But the race is tomorrow, today was good but we need to concentrate for tomorrow and also look at the sky - because the weather has been so changeable at the moment – yesterday and today – and tomorrow we need to be ready for anything.

Q.There was a bit of a worrying Ferrari moment in Q2 there.

FA: It was close. It started raining at the beginning of Q2 and we all wanted to set a time at the beginning of the session because we expected more rain to come. The first or second lap we knew was the best moment to set a time. So we were all in a group. Felipe had a moment in Turn Six and then in Turn Eight and we were very close but it was fine in the end.

Q.Sebastian, does July look a little bit better now?

SV: I think it can't be that bad, I was born in July, so... I said it on Thursday and nothing has changed. I think it was an interesting session, and as Fernando said, things can go completely the other way from what you expect. So, I was not entirely happy with the lap I had in the end when conditions were best. Potentially the strategy Fernando had in the end was a little bit quicker – but nevertheless I think I could have gone a little bit quicker. Whether it would have been quick enough, we'll never know. I will see what we can get tomorrow. We saw Mark getting frustrated with other cars – was that the case for all of you?

SV: What do you mean frustrated with other cars? There was obviously somebody ahead of him…

SV: Well, I think the thing is, if you are too close to someone in these conditions you can't see nothing. I was catching up Mark and in the mirrors obviously you can't see nothing, so I guess he couldn't see me. I don't think he had intention to hold me up. Obviously I lost two laps because of that. But, as I said, the fastest was still the last one. And then if you keep catching someone up, even if he's still three, four, five seconds down the road, you go on the straight, the spray comes up, you see nothing, you don't see the rivers and all of a sudden you are sideways. The car is in seventh gear, 280kph and it's a surprise. So yeah, it's on the limit but obviously you have to do your best under these conditions, everyone else is pushing as well, so no choice.

Q. How do you feel about the car in the dry, which we hope it will be tomorrow?

SV: I think it should be dry. Obviously I grew up more or less here in the area. I'm surprised it's that bad actually, in July, because July is always a nice month weather-wise. Yeah, so, I hope for a good race tomorrow, looking forward. I think the car is not bad if we get in the right window – so we need to see what we've done this morning and qualifying. Obviously with the conditions changing so much you never find consistency and you can't really test one thing against another. But I think the speed is there, we just need to find out how the car works best. Obviously now we can't change anything but I think the changes we've made should be a step forward, especially in the dry.

Mark, your best qualifying position here, things look a little bit better for you. It hasn't always been lucky, as we mentioned the other day.

MW: Yeah, as the other guys have touched on, it was an intense, tricky session for drivers, engineers, decisions. Yeah, it was a challenge for us. I think in Q3, definitely to arrive on the straight in seventh gear was sometimes not possible. To use the KERS wasn't possible, there was extremely heavy aquaplaning, so when the cars are having wheelspin at 280ks it certainly gets your attention. So we had to juggle a few balls, and make sure we arrived at the end of each lap in reasonable shape. It was becoming obvious that the times were going to be done at the end but I think there was a few people out there with tyres not in the best shape at the end, so Fernando's strategy looked pretty good. But in the end I was happy with my lap; happy to be up there again. Yeah, would have liked to have been on the front row. Obviously every position I gained was better against the penalty that I have for the gearbox – but eighth is still OK here, we can race from there.

Q.What are you hoping for tomorrow, a podium at least?

MW: A win. No. Well, y'know. We've got to aim to come forward, I mean that's what we've got to do. It's not the best position to start the grand prix, that's clear. To start eighth is not ideal but we have to aim to come forward and let's see what happens at the front, let's see how the race goes. We've had limited running in the dry, there's been snapshots of information for the teams to get some information. I'm positive going into the race and will try to pick some people off over the course of the grand prix.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q. (Adrian Huber - EFE) Fernando, you've had massive performance on dry tyres, on wet, extreme wet; are you happy also with the direction that the car is developing? And the next question is, would you be happy with a podium tomorrow or are you aiming for your 30th victory?

FA: Yeah, the car is performing well in all conditions this weekend, which didn't always happen: we were quick on inters and not extreme and vice versa, sometimes good on wets and not so competitive on dries but it's true that this weekend both Felipe and me were happy with the balance of the car and also quite competitive in all conditions, so overall, until now it's been a very good weekend for us in terms of car performance, but we need to finish the job tomorrow. Tomorrow we will try to do our best; whatever the position will be at the end is difficult to know because we didn't have enough dry running, I think, to know about degradation, tyre performance etc, because Friday we had some rain in FP1 and this morning in FP3 was not a big preparation for the race either, so tomorrow is a question mark for everybody. We will all start the race in the same condition with some things to learn during the race, very open in strategy, very flexible because, as I said, we don't have enough information from the weekend so far.

Q. (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Motor und Sport) Fernando, how crucial was it that you changed tyres in Q3; your main rivals didn't do that?

FA: I think it was a very good decision in the end, because obviously I didn't know what timed lap you could do if you kept running but as soon as I put on the second set of tyres, I found a little bit more grip in the car. Also the track was improving obviously, but I think we improved a little bit more thanks to the tyres, not only the track conditions, so I'm happy with the strategy today and I think it was the right call.

Q. (Marc Ellerich - Sport 1.de) Sebastian, can you describe what it is like to drive when you can't see out there? How do you drive, do you hear, do you smell; how is it possible, I can't imagine?

SV: Of course you can see a little bit. It's not as if you could close your eyes and it's the same. Don't get me wrong, but you can't see where the track is going. Obviously you know where it's going, you don't need a map to find out where you are but all you see is just the very first bit in front of your car. There are rivers everywhere and there's probably only two lanes: one for the left hand side, one for the right hand side. If you are in that, you are more or less OK but as soon as you are a little bit left, a little bit to the right, a little bit to the left of that then you are in trouble. As soon as the car aquaplanes you are a passenger so there's not much you can do. Obviously once you start to brake and the spray decreases, it gets much better, but the closer you are to another car the worse it is. Even if you are four/five seconds behind on the straights, it's always worse. If you are the first car out and there's no one ahead of you, it's not a big big problem You still have to drive your way around the puddles and the rivers but at least you can see where you're going. It's not the nicest feeling but that's how it is.

Q. (Carlos Miguel - La Gaceta) Fernando, you must be aggressive at the start of the race, because Sebastian makes very good starts this season and last year?

FA: Yes, we will see. Obviously it will depend on how the start is. Sometimes you feel a good start straightaway and you concentrate on the first corner line. If you feel too much wheelspin or too little, you try to cover it a little bit to protect your position, but obviously the race is long, 67 laps in front of us and everything isn't finished at the first corner. So far, our starts have probably been the best this year so I'm not too worried at the moment.

Q. (Marc Ellerich - Sport 1.de) Sebastian, today it was very wet and it's probably going to be dry tomorrow, so how is it to change conditions for your team and for yourself?

SV: Well, I think we had some laps in the dry this weekend but for sure at the start of the race it will be difficult for all of us. Not all of us have done runs on heavy fuel. I think the McLarens did but I don't think Ferrari and us did this morning, so we will see, but it shouldn't be a big problem. We know the circuit pretty well and hopefully we will find the braking point for - not necessarily the first corner but the second corner and then the hairpin and then yeah, you have time to get into the rhythm.
 

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Button sure race will be much stronger
By Tom Mallett | Autosport

Jenson Button is undaunted by McLaren's grid positions for the German Grand Prix as he believes the team's dry weather pace is far superior to what it managed in the wet in Hockenheim qualifying.

Button and team-mate Lewis Hamilton were seventh and eighth quickest in the rain-hit Q3, having struggled to make their wet tyres work.

But having concentrated on his race set-up in the morning's mostly dry practice session, where he posted the slowest time, Button thinks the McLaren is in very good shape for the race.

"I definitely think we should aim for [a podium] and I think we should aim even higher, in dry conditions we have made some good improvements to the car aerodynamically and mechanically and it is just in the wet where we struggle with tyre temperature," said Button.

"The car feels good in the dry and I have done a lot of high-fuel running so we have a lot of information other people don't.

"On Friday we did three long runs and today I did two long runs so I feel we are more ready to race than anyone," he added.

Despite his optimism for the race Button says he is still unsure why he cannot make the tyres work in wet conditions.

"The tyre isn't working, it is just skating and you spend the whole time so fearful that it is just going to send you off into the goonies," he said.

"It wasn't very good really, just really struggling with the same issues we always have in these conditions. We just can't get the tyres working and I've driven F1 cars for 12 or 13 years and I know what it is like to drive in the wet and I know what it feels like when you can't get the tyres working."

 

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Hamilton mystified by lack of pace
By Matt Beer | Autosport

Lewis Hamilton admitted he was confused about where his pace went at the end of German Grand Prix qualifying after only managing eighth place in Q3.

The result marked the first time all season that Hamilton had been outqualified by his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, who was seventh fastest.

Hamilton had been quickest by 0.6 seconds in Q2, which was hit by a shower at the start, so could not understand why his speed faded in similar conditions in the following qualifying segment.

"It does have to come together and we have to put in the laps but I was doing alright for a while and I don't understand what happened in the end," he said.

"It was looking good until it got really wet but I don't know what happened at the end. I was quite quick and then I don't know if the tyres went off or lost temperature. The track was drying up so we should have gone faster but we didn't."

The Briton did not think the timing of his final lap was a factor.

"For sure, the track was drying so it would be better [to have another lap] but I had one lap at the end and I went straight off so it was like driving on ice for us," said Hamilton.

He is determined to make progress in Sunday's grand prix.

"Tomorrow will be a tough race and I plan to hunt down everyone in front," Hamilton said.

He added: "The great thing about here is that you have big DRS down the back so hopefully we will do some big overtaking tomorrow."
 

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Grosjean concerned about lack of pace
By Glenn Freeman | Autosport

Romain Grosjean is worried about his car's lack of pace after a disappointing qualifying for the German Grand Prix.

The Lotus driver was only 15th in Q2, and he will move further down the grid as one of three drivers taking penalties for gearbox changes. But he said he was more concerned with the performance of his car rather than his grid drop.

"A penalty is bad in any case," Grosjean told reporters in the Hockenheim paddock. "But what worries me today is the lack of performance in the dry in Q1. I didn't feel any grip, so we need to work, to analyse, and to get better for tomorrow.

"It felt like the rain came down on my car before the others. No grip in Q1, it was a very difficult session."

Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen topped Q1 in the dry, which Grosjean feels highlights how much trouble he was in on Saturday afternoon.

"Kimi was fastest, so his car was good," Grosjean added. "But we were almost one second behind, which is far too much. So we will try to understand it.

"We need to find the pace. If we want to come back in any way then we have to get the pace in the car. At the moment we don't have it, so hopefully we find it through the night.

"We have to analyse what was wrong, and get back to the level we know from the last few races in the dry. And then we can overtake people."
 
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