Button: I don’t know what Grosjean was thinking...
28 July 2013
Jenson Button emerged from the Hungarian Grand Prix with a smile on his face, despite a number of rugged encounters with rivals during the 70-lap race.
The Briton brought his McLaren home in seventh place after starting on the harder medium tyres and running a two-stop strategy that elevated him from a frustrating 13th on the grid. However, there was a point where the 2009 world champion feared his race may have been over after a particularly brusque move from the mercurial Romain Grosjean.
Having been bottled up behind both Button and Vettel after he and the German had made earlier stops to get rid of their soft Pirellis, Grosjean sensed that he needed to follow the three-time champion through but failed to clear the McLaren before the chicane loomed.
“I don't know what he thought [would happen],” Button sighed after the race, “Unless I took to the grass, it was inevitable we were going to touch! I don't think he was thinking at that point.”
Grosjean wasn't the only one to make contact with the McLaren, as Vettel became increasingly frustrated at seeing leader Lewis Hamilton pull away while he was stuck in traffic.
“It was a fun race – although I seemed to be a target for other cars!” Button laughed, “Sebastian tried many times to get past me, and clipped my rear wheel into turn two – he may have damaged his wing, but I was lucky not to puncture.”
Fortunate not to have to make an unscheduled pit-stop, the Briton was able to carry out his planned strategy, taking on the soft rubber for his middle stint before a return to the harder prime tyre paved the way to another points finish, even if he was unable to catch Grosjean for sixth.
“I ran almost half the race on the prime tyre, which was the longest of anybody, [and] it's good to show we can do that,” Button remarked, “Our middle stint pace on the option was also very good, and I had a blinding first lap, jumping from 13th to eighth.
“Seventh position might not look too exciting – particularly after we fought for fifth at the last race – but we've done a good job this weekend and taken a step forward. We beat a Ferrari fair and square, and we'd also have beaten a Mercedes if Nico [Rosberg] hadn't stopped, so we can take a lot of positives away from here. That's a nice little boost to send everyone off into the summer break.”
Team-mate Sergio Perez followed a similar strategy to Button, having decided to qualify on the prime tyre, but found his race hampered by traffic after making a poor getaway.
“We really needed the starting tyre in the best possible condition to make a two-stopper work properly,” he sighed after coming home ninth overall, “After qualifying yesterday, I think we were in a good position to score some good points, but we were affected by the run on the used prime from qualifying.
“Unfortunately, I think we lost out a little too much in the first stint. I struggled with the rear of the car, had to pit earlier than planned, and then ran into traffic and lost more time, so it's a bit of a shame.”
Congratulating Perez's predecessor, Lewis Hamilton, on his first victory since moving to the Mercedes team, McLaren principal Martin Whitmarsh also paid tribute to both his current drivers for the way they conducted themselves in difficult circumstances, as the double score took the Woking squad to within two points of fifth-placed Force India.
“Both Jenson and 'Checo' deserve plaudits for their great professionalism today, driving very cleanly in challenging circumstances made even trickier by the proximity of drivers on three-stop strategies who were obviously able and willing to push harder than they were,” he commented.
“Jenson controlled his pace brilliantly throughout today's race, optimising a two-stop strategy to score six valuable world championship points here in Budapest. Moreover, he was quick in his middle stint, on options, which underlined the decent race pace that MP4-28 was able to produce on this tricky and idiosyncratic racetrack.
“Checo was very unlucky to get boxed in at the start, losing places as a result, but thereafter he did a very solid and professional job, hanging on in there to bag two useful world championship points.
“Now, as we go into the mid-season break, it goes without saying that we'll continue to do our utmost to score as many points as we can in the second half of the season.”