While the Red Bull ‘own-goal’ dominated the headlines in the wake of the Turkish Grand Prix, the duel between McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button could have equally ended in tears and controversy…
In the wake of the spectacular crash that sidelines Sebastian Vettel and robbed Mark Webber of a possible hat-trick of wins, it is believed that the McLaren duo actually banged wheels when they also scrapped for the lead at Istanbul Park.
Many of you may recall TV images of an anguished McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh as he watched his prized duo risk repeating the same offence committed by their counterparts further along the pit lane.
But the official race review video posted on the Formula1.com website has some more interesting revelations…
The video review – which I encourage you to check out – shows Lewis’ concerned comments on the pit-to-car radio: "Jenson is closing in on me, you guys … If I back off, is Jenson going to pass me or not?”
Despite both drivers having been given the instruction to save fuel, Lewis’ engineer Andy Latham replied: “No Lewis, no.”
What is more interesting is that Hamilton was given an actual lap time target he needed to achieve in order to have enough fuel to finish the race. It seems that Button’s engineers neglected to pass on the same information…
"They didn’t put a lap time on it. They just said you have got to save a bit of fuel," Button confirmed.
Simultaneously, Hamilton explained that it was his “slow” lap time target that allowed Button to mount his challenge for the lead.
“I was slowing down to keep that target and all of a sudden Jenson was right up my tail,” the 2008 Champion said. "He just appeared from nowhere and he was up my tail and there was nothing I could do.”
Ultimately, Hamilton redressed the balance and reclaimed the lead from Button after a five-corner battle to win the race, but his celebrations on the podium were uncharacteristically restrained.
McLaren has subsequently tried to sweep the threat of potential discord under the rug, releasing some carefully worded statements from its drivers, who each described the clash as a fair race.
"It was tricky in those closing laps, because we knew we were pretty marginal on fuel, but the team lets us race and that’s exactly what we did," said Button.
But if one side of the pit gantry is not telling its driver the same information as that being given by the other side of the gantry, then it would seem that there might be more to this than McLaren would care to admit to…
[Original images via AUTOSPORT]