Formula 1 News

Pit-lane blunders decisive in China

Schumacher retired while ins second and with a good race pace; Button was poised for a late race hunt of Rosberg, but a 10 second stop put off that plan.
Sunday, April 15, 2012

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Shanghai, April 15, 2012 (AFP) - Former world champions Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher both saw their Chinese Grand Prix victory hopes ruined by pit-lane errors, but refused to blame their teams for wrecking their chances.

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First to go, about a quarter of the way through the action in Shanghai, was the Mercedes of Schumacher, who had started on the front row of the grid with team-mate Nico Rosberg, the eventual race winner.

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As Schumacher made off to exit the pit after a tyre change, a Mercedes mechanic could be seen frantically waving his arms in a vain bid to stop him.

But the 43-year-old was gone, only to slow up and stop shortly afterwards as he was forced to meekly bow out, his chance of a first race win since coming out of retirement over.

Minutes later Mercedes confirmed on Twitter: "Michael's right front wheel was not fitted properly at the stop leading to his retirement."

Schumacher celebrated Rosberg's maiden victory and explained of his retirement: "My right front tyre got loose following my first pit stop. As I did not want to cause any bigger damage to the car, I stopped on the grass.

"I felt there was something wrong immediately and especially in turn three, when I put pressure on the right side of the car. Up until then I had a controlled race I'd say, keeping the others behind me and the tyres together.

"Of course, this was an unfortunate ending to what could have been a nice race, and I feel sorry for the guys, who always work so hard and give their best. But we all know that's part of the game."

Mercedes were later fined 5,000 euros for an unsafe release.

Button survived his pit-lane problem, but saw his chance of snatching victory go and had to settle for second in his McLaren.

"I stopped on the markers and had a problem on the rear," the Briton revealed.

"I got stuck for maybe 10 seconds," he added, allowing Rosberg to streak into a clear lead that he never looked likely to surrender.

"The first two (stops) were very good. These things happen."

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