Jenson Button saw his F1 2011 British Grand Prix come to a premature end today due to a pit stop gaffe.
Button, who started fifth, was running strongly in his McLaren MP4-26 and was right in the mix to challenge for a podium as the event moved into its closing stages. However unfortunately in his third and final pit stop, he was released before his right-front wheel was properly secured and sadly he then had to stop right at the exit of the pits.
It was a bitter blow for the Englishman, especially as it means he will now have to wait another twelve months to try and end his Silverstone jinx – and finally get on the podium in front of his home supporters.
“So much could have happened in my race today,” Button reflected. “Before my final stop I'd had great pace, and I'd caught Lewis [Hamilton – my team-mate], Sebastian [Vettel] and Mark [Webber]. When they peeled off into the pits, I stayed out for one more lap and I think I would have come out alongside, or even ahead of, Mark after the stop.
“But, as I turned out of the pitlane, my right-front wheel came off and I was forced to stop immediately.
"The guy on the front-right lost the wheelnut and turned to take another; as he turned, I think his hand moved and the guy on the front jack felt that that was the trigger to lower the car. Then the lollipop lifted. Hopefully, we won't have that sort of issue again.
“It's disappointing – especially in front of the home crowd – because I was really enjoying the race. I'd had good pace all afternoon and really enjoyed a couple of good battles – particularly passing Felipe [Massa] on the inside into Vale.
“I think we gave the fans something to cheer, although it was a shame we couldn't have scored more world championship points: anyone who had pace at the end of the race had a good chance, and I think there was definitely a podium to be had here today.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh meanwhile concurred that a rostrum was a realistic prospect.
“Jenson drove an excellent race – combative yet disciplined – and I think he could well have bagged a podium finish had it not been for the pitstop mix-up that prematurely ended his race,” he added.
“Our pitcrew has done a fantastic job all year – but on this occasion they released Jenson before his right-front wheel had been properly attached.
“It was a case of human error in the heat of the moment – but, as I say, and as I want to stress the point, our pitcrew has completed dozens of faultless pitstops under extreme pressure this season and today's error was therefore totally atypical,” Whitmarsh summed-up.