| AP Photo/Mark Baker
McLaren left the Indian Grand Prix with two landmarks against its name but neither of which was significant enough to give the British team a considerable amount of joy on Sunday.
Jenson Button, who was fifth, registered the 150th fastest lap for the team while McLaren equalled Ferrari’s run of finishing the most number of Grands Prix in points – 55.
But 22 points is not what the team had intended for in the race for the second spot in the constructors’ championship, which Ferrari holds the edge by ten points.
Lewis Hamilton had qualified third but was slow of the line and lost ground at the start and found himself under attack from his fellow competitors forcing the 27-year-old to exercise caution in the opening lap.
"I was primarily focusing on not colliding with Jenson, then I saw Fernando (Alonso) in my right mirror. He was towing me from very far back. Even if I’d had a better start than I did, the guys in front were still maybe a bit too fast, particularly in the first stint,” he explained.
Troubles for Hamilton continued after he started having a downshift problem which was addressed cleanly during his first pit stop.
“I was having to change down with my right hand instead of my left, so the team elected to change the steering wheel at the pit stop,” he said.
“I’ve never had to change a steering wheel during a race before. We’ve done it in Barcelona testing before, but never in a race,” he pointed out. “I took the wheel off before I’d even stopped the car, and threw it out of the car. The team then fitted a new one, I clicked it into first gear, and I was away – all in just a bit over three seconds flat.”
In the closing stages, Hamilton chased the KERS-afflicted Mark Webber but was too late to mount a serious challenge and had to settle for fourth.
Button meanwhile struggled on the option tyres for which he pitted earlier than planned to take advantage of the primes, but found himself stuck behind Lotus’ Romain Grosjean and lost time compromising the British driver’s outing.