Clutch and gear issues thwart Button at Monza
8 September 2013
F1 teams don't panic easily, but McLaren came close to it when they found that Jenson Button's McLaren was suffering from a fuel system issue just an hour before the start of the Italian Grand Prix. A service that would normally have to be done overnight needed to be completed before the pit lane closed ahead of the start of the race - and the team pulled it off.
"I just want to say a big 'thank you' to all the guys in the garage today," said Button. "They had to really work hard to repair my car's fuel system before the race, in record time, and they pulled out all the stops to get it all done. It was touch-and-go for a while, but they responded really well and did an incredible job."
But once he was able to take the start, the gltches with the car started to mount up, leaving Button struggling to stay in the points despite having started form ninth place on the grid.
"I had a bad start when my clutch slipped, and I dropped a few places. That first stint was quite good fun, but, once I got stuck behind Daniel there was no way of getting past him," referring to a long stint behind Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo.
"We didn't get the gear ratios quite right today," Button admitted. "Consequently, as our fuel loads decreased, and our cornering speeds should have increased, we were hampered by our rev-limiters, and that made it easier for the cars behind to overtake us and harder for us to overtake the cars ahead of us.
"In clear air, our pace was pretty good, but, with such a short top gear, especially with DRS deployed, we were hitting the rev-limiter while other cars weren't being rev-limited," he continued.
"Moreover, about 15 laps from the end, I locked up into the first corner and severely flat-spotted my front-right tyre," he added. "I couldn't really see a lot after that, because of vibration, but I still managed to bring it home and score a world championship point for the team."
"We've come away with a very hard-won world championship point," agreed a rueful McLaren team principal, Martin Whitmarsh, who admitted that a lack of straight line speed had compromised Button and Sergio Perez' efforts in Monza.
"Our cars were faster in terms of overall lap-time [but] their comparative lack of straight-line speed prevented Jenson and Checo from being able to pass the Toro Rossos in order to exploit that greater pace on a clear track," Whitmarsh explained. "Jenson was mighty at the end of the race, however, holding off Kimi to retain tenth place by just three-tenths of a second at the chequered flag."
As for Perez, he was disappointed to slip out of the top ten by the finish despite having started one place ahead of Button on the grid, having been hit from behind by Kimi Raikkonen in the first run through the first chicane and then subsequently suffering a slow pit stop.
“I got hit from behind into turn One and had to cut the chicane," he said. "We stopped one lap later than we'd planned, and I lost a position to Jenson when the stop didn't go too well. From then on, I was stuck in a train of cars; and, without a straight-line speed advantage, I just couldn't get past anyone."
It was left to Whitmarsh to sum things up as "a disappointing end to a frustrating weekend," and not at all the way that the team had wanted to celebrate their historic 50th anniversary at Monza.