29 May 2011
'Faultless' Button takes third
Jenson Button: The team did a great job this weekend and I'm very happy. We really went for it and had to try something different in order to beat Sebastian here. It was looking good, but it didn't work out in the end.
Jenson Button was philosophical after missing out on victory in the F1 2011 Monaco GP today.
Button led at one point and looked strong after early leader Sebastian Vettel had lost time with a botched pit stop. However in the end he was unable to beat the German and also slipped behind Fernando Alonso, bringing his McLaren MP4-26 home in third to take the final spot on the rostrum.
“I didn't put a foot wrong out there, pulled away into a good lead... but came away with 'only' 15 points in the end. But that's Monte-Carlo,” Button noted. “We jumped Sebastian [Vettel] at the first stop and I then pushed like crazy on the Super-Soft, even tapping the wall a couple of times. The car was good and I pulled out a big lead, about 15 seconds, so it was all looking great at that point.
“Then we made another tyre stop – just moments before the Safety Car was deployed. By that stage, we still hadn't run the Prime, which meant we still had to fit another set of tyres to finish the race.
“With 10 laps to go, it was looking like either myself, Sebastian or Fernando [Alonso] could win the race: Sebastian's tyres were going off and Fernando was pushing him really hard. I could tell that Fernando was getting ready to have a go into Turn One – it was fun to watch because they were either going to crash or there was going to be an opportunity for me to try and get through as they battled each other. Any of us could have won at that point.
“But after the red flag for Vitaly [Petrov]'s big accident, all the teams were able to fit fresh tyres – which meant we couldn't do anything because the three of us were all on the same pace and I'd lost my advantage.
“The team did a great job this weekend and I'm very happy. We really went for it and had to try something different in order to beat Sebastian here. It was looking good, but it didn't work out in the end.”
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh meanwhile felt the Woking-based outfit definitely had the pace to win, if circumstances had played more in their favour, and he was extremely pleased with Button's performance.
“Our car had a lot of pace here in Monte-Carlo today – race-winning pace in fact – and I guess we'd therefore have to count ourselves as a bit unlucky not to have been able to convert that pace into the race win it could well have achieved,” Whitmarsh added.
“We selected a three-stop strategy for Jenson – and, had the race not been red-flagged just as Jenson had caught Sebastian and Fernando, I think that that selection would have been revealed as the right one. Now, of course, we'll never know – but it's undeniable that Sebastian and Fernando were both on very worn tyres at the end, whereas Jenson's were pretty fresh by comparison, so we definitely fancied his chances of being able to press home that advantage by overtaking the Ferrari and the Red Bull in the final laps. But, as I say, the red flag scuppered those chances.
“Having said that, Jenson drove not only faultlessly but also very, very fast here this afternoon. Indeed, he posted the team's 10,000th lap in the lead of a grand prix today, a stunning statistic. On his charge, he caught the Sebastian-Fernando battle by almost two seconds per lap whilst still managing to conserve his tyres. It was a truly excellent performance.”
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