McLaren's Jenson Button has said his failure to score in the F1 2010 Belgian Grand Prix today at Spa-Francorchamps is a 'massive blow' to his championship aspirations.
Button, who of course is bidding to defend his title this season, looked on course to take the runners-up spot until he was taken out by Sebastian Vettel on lap 15 at the bus stop. Although the German apologised [see separate story – click here
], it wasn't much consolation.
Indeed while Button remains fourth in the standings – and doesn't lose ground to Vettel or Fernando Alonso, both also failing to score at Spa, with Lewis Hamilton taking the win in the sister MP4-25 and Mark Webber securing second, these two now open up a sizeable gap, with the former 35 points ahead.
“It was looking really good this afternoon,” Button reflected. “I had a good start and I got up to second easily enough, but my left-hand front wing endplate had been damaged on lap one, which gave me massive understeer, especially in the places where I needed the front grip coming onto the straights. That meant I had to dial maximum angle into it, and made the rear twitchy without giving me any more front [grip].
“As a result, it was pretty tricky to keep the others behind, but I was having a good fight in the wet conditions, and I seemed to be able to find grip better than the other people around me. I was doing a decent job of keeping my position I thought, and doing it fairly, and we were going to change the front wing at the stop.
“Then, as everyone knows, I had an incident with Sebastian. I certainly didn't brake any earlier than usual. All I know is I suddenly felt a big bang in the sidepod, which ripped the radiator out, and then I lost drive completely.
“I've watched it on TV now, and I'd say it was a very strange incident. Clearly, he didn't do it on purpose, and I gather he's now apologised, but I have to say I've got no idea what he was doing.
“It's a massive blow to my world championship hopes, a massive blow. It hurts quite a bit, really. All I can do now is look forward to Monza. I love that track, and I'll be doing my best to score a lot of points there.”
McLaren team principal, Martin Whitmarsh added: “Clearly, had Jenson's race not been ended by Sebastian's error, he would have scored a hatful of world championship points – and today is therefore a deeply frustrating day for him. He drove superbly though and he is very mature. I know he won't let this setback get to him.”