McLaren's Jenson Button finished on the podium in the F1 2011 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix despite struggling for most of the race with an intermittent KERS problem.
After starting third, Button soon gained a place when Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel went out with a tyre failure, but he then lost out to Ferrari's Fernando Alonso at the end of the back straight.
In several Grand's Prix of late, a problem for the usually dominant Vettel would have been the catalyst for a comfortable Button victory. Today however, he had to deal with a resurgent team-mate in Lewis Hamilton, an inspired Alonso and most crucially, a rare KERS issue.
“It was a difficult race for me, as I had a KERS Hybrid issue, which is admittedly very rare for us. After about 15 laps it stopped working - and that doesn't just affect your power out of the corners, it affects engine braking too,” Button explained after the race at the Yas Marina Circuit.
“Fortunately, my engineer came over the radio and told me they'd found a way to make it work again - but it meant pushing lots of buttons on the steering wheel every couple of laps because it only returned intermittently. So I'd arrive at a corner and not know whether I had any engine braking because I had no warning. So selecting the right spot at which to brake was tough.”
The Englishman could still be satisfied with his afternoon's work however, and keeping Red Bull's Mark Webber behind for several laps in the middle of the race, despite juggling KERS issues, was no mean feat.
“As I say, it's extremely rare for us to encounter a problem with our KERS Hybrid,” he continued. “Mercedes-Benz has done a great job this year, and in fact I'd say theirs is the best and most reliable unit in the pitlane: a fantastic system. Although the problem made for a tricky drive for me, it also made it even more satisfying to manage to keep it together and end up on the podium.”
Finally, Button was full of praise for his team-mate's return to form.
“Last of all, I want to say: 'Fair play to Lewis.' He did a great job today. It's very positive to move towards the end of the season on a high, because it's the best possible way to build for the new season,” he concluded
by Philip Barclay