Jenson Button admitted he was pleased to outscore team-mate Rubens Barrichello in Singapore to extend his lead in the F1 drivers' championship standings.
The Brawn GP driver had started the race down in eleventh place on the grid, but got ahead of Kazuki Nakajima off the line to run tenth in the early stages.
The deployment of the Safety Car for the incident involving Adrian Sutil and Nick Heidfeld forced Button to change his strategy, but a series of quick laps prior to his second stop allowed the Briton to jump ahead of Barrichello into fifth place, and he will now take a 15 point lead to Japan next weekend – when he could secure the title if results go his way.
“It was a good race for me and I'm happy with fifth position and four more points today,” he said. “Getting ahead of Kazuki off the line was key and that really made my race. The first stint was quite frustrating as I could see Rubens getting away from me whilst I was stuck behind Heikki with a heavier fuel load. The safety car then made it very difficult as I still had fuel for a few more laps and should have been able to make up two places at my first stop.
“I had to put in some quick laps before my second stop to close up to Rubens and then we were pushing to catch Sebastian before deciding to save the brakes and settle for the fifth position. The weekend hasn't been quite what we expected but it's good to come through from eleventh on the grid to score points today. I'll go to Japan tomorrow feeling very positive and looking forward to the next race.”
Team-mate Barrichello finished one place behind Button in sixth to minimise his losses and the Brazilian insisted he is still very much in the title race with three races to go.
“It was a pretty eventful weekend for me and a tough race today,” he said. “I had a great start to make up two places and everything was going well in the first stint. It's a shame that the safety car didn't play into my hands but I was in a good position. Unfortunately I had a problem on my second pit stop when I couldn't engage neutral and the engine stalled which lost me the crucial time needed to stay ahead of Jenson. After that my brakes were struggling and I couldn't fight anymore so we came home with sixth position.
“It could have been a better weekend but I only lost a point to Jenson in the championship despite everything that happened so I'm staying positive.”