Whilst reflecting that his blown engine in last weekend's Monaco Grand Prix could have been worse in that it occurred at a circuit that was 'never going to be one of the best for our car', defending world champion Jenson Button has nevertheless stressed that McLaren-Mercedes cannot afford another failure to finish if it is to successfully do battle for the F1 2010 laurels.
Button was forced out of contention around the narrow, tortuous streets of the glamorous Principality – where only twelve months earlier he had famously triumphed – after human error led to a lack of airflow to the Mercedes-Benz engine in the back of his MP4-25.
As a consequence, with the field touring around at low-speed behind the safety car on lap three, the engine overheated and let go – meaning nul points
for the British star for the first time this season, and with it the loss of his lead in the title standings, as the 30-year-old slipped back to fourth spot behind runaway Red Bull Racing duo Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
“It should be fine,” he mused of the engine, speaking to his personal website. “I turned it off pretty quickly, so I don't think it will be an issue. [The offending part was] just a simple foam bung that we use in the garage to seal the sidepod and prevent cold air from flowing through it. It helps to maintain the engine's operating temperature after we've warmed up the car.
“In Monaco, the bung was removed from the right-hand side but not the left, so the air that we need to feed the radiators and cool the car wasn't getting through. That meant the car was slowly overheating, and that's why I pulled off before the damage got too severe.
“Of course, [I was] disappointed at not being able to score points on Sunday, but realistic that it was never going to be one of the best circuits for our car, and also pleased that my championship chances didn't suffer too badly after failing to finish.
“Retiring from a race is just one of those things. It happens to each and every driver, every single year. It's a part of motor racing, and it's something you just deal with and move on from. I'm already looking forward to Turkey – I've spoken with the team, and we're pretty confident that we'll be quite a bit more competitive in Istanbul.”
Indeed, Button and team-mate, compatriot and title-winning predecessor Lewis Hamilton will need
to be closer to the pace in next weekend's Turkish Grand Prix if they are to have any hope of stopping the Red Bull steamroller abruptly in its tracks. Although he acknowledges that leading at this stage of the campaign means nothing, the Frome-born ace is equally well aware that too many more failures to score for McLaren could spell long-term disaster.
“At the moment, no,” he insisted, when asked if he is at all concerned by having surrendered his advantage. “We all know this is a long season – 19 races – and it's still too early to be worrying about leading the championship. Don't get me wrong, it's nice, but it's not important until the end of the season.