Jenson Button insists that he would not have been able to win the Chinese Grand Prix even if he hadn't made the embarrassing blunder of stopping in front for the Red bull mechanics on his first scheduled tyre change.
The Briton, starting from a season-best second on the grid, led into the first corner after out-dragging poleman Sebastian Vettel away from the lights, and, with McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton also getting the better of the German, looked to build an early lead. However, with his MP4-26 suffering from both a lack of pace and using its rear tyres quicker than his usually smooth style would have suggested, Button was unable to pull more than a one-second gap and was coming under threat from Vettel when he pitted.
There was already a degree of confusion over the stop, as team principal Martin Whitmarsh revealed that Button had been due to pit a lap earlier, but Button added to the chaos by pulling into the Red Bull area. He had all but stopped by the time he realised his error, and the added time it took to get to the next stall down was enough for Vettel to steal the advantage.
“I lost out to Sebastian at the first pit-stop, when I mistakenly pulled into his box," Button confirmed, "I was looking down at the steering wheel to adjust a switch and, when I looked up, I thought I was in my pitbox - but then I saw the Red Bull pitcrew in front of me!"
The Briton admitted, however, that 'the moment didn't really change my race at all', as the lack of pace left him at the mercy of his team-mate, who swept through at turn one on lap 36, and, in the closing stages, a charging Mark Webber. An ever-changing order had returned Button to third by that point, and he was naturally disappointed to miss out on a podium after qualifying had promised better than fourth.
“We saw a lot of action out on the track today, but we just weren't quick enough," he said of an unpredictable race, "For some reason, I really struggled to look after the rear tyres, and fourth place was the best I could get out of my car today.
“Nowadays, getting strategy right is very important. I didn't have a clue where I was going to finish - I could have been seventh, I could have been second. Nonetheless, fourth position is a good result, all things considered.
"I'm looking forward to getting back to MTC and improving the car for the next race. Congratulations to Lewis – he had good pace and drove a great race today - and we'll be pushing as hard as ever, as this victory will be a great motivator for everybody back in Woking."