McLaren's Jenson Button finished fourth in the F1 2010 Japanese Grand Prix today - and he reckoned that was the optimum result.
The reigning world champion opted to start on the hard tyre – the only top-ten qualifier to do so - but his gamble failed to pay off, in part because of a lengthy safety car period, which filled the first six laps and better than expected performance from the option rubber.
Button now loses more ground to Mark Webber and will go to the next race in two weeks time 31 points adrift of the Aussie.
Speaking at the finish, Jenson said his McLaren MP4-25 didn't have the speed to match the Red Bulls – or Fernando Alonso's Ferrari, and in the end he was somewhat fortune to be able to get back past his team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, who lost time in the closing stages due to a gearbox problem.
“At the start of the race, the drivers in front weren't struggling on the option tyre as much as we'd expected. So we were a little bit compromised, and I think we stayed out too long for our first stint,” Button said.
“As soon as we saw the others were quick on the option, and I wasn't able to pull a gap, or pressure anyone in front, maybe it would have been sensible to pit at that point and fit the option. We'll go away and look at the data, and the reasons for it.
“It was a tough race on such old tyres, but it was fun once we'd fitted the option; the car felt great – I had a lot of grip, and the car was very fast. Still, we weren't quick enough today to beat the Red Bulls and possibly the Ferrari. And I don't think we'd have finished any further up.
“I'm in the same championship position as I was before this race, so the title's getting more difficult. We came here with a lot of different new parts – some of them worked really well, while others need a bit of work.
“We've just got to hope that when we put the new package on the car in Korea, we get the best out of it. For the next race, we'll hopefully have the performance we'd expected to have here.”