22 September 2013
Singapore Grand Prix: McLaren risk ‘was worth taking’
Seventh and eighth in the Singapore Grand Prix may not have been the result McLaren desired, but the team was happy to accept them after coming up short on a tyre gamble.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh insists that trying to make it to the chequered flag on two stops was a worthwhile pursuit as the Woking squad attempted to claim its first podium of 2013.
After a mid-race safety car prompted a rash of pit-stops which saw both Jenson Button and Sergio Perez take on their third set of tyres, the Briton found himself running third on the road, behind only runaway leader Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso. The German's advantage was such that he could afford to delay his second stop and still rejoin at the front, while Alonso was far enough of Button to be sure of runners up honours having stopped at the same time as the McLaren.
Having run his first two stints on the supersoft 'option' tyre, Button took on the harder prime compound at his second stop, giving McLaren the possibility of running to the end. As it happened, the rubber failed to last the distance, hitting the infamous 'cliff' with around ten laps to run and sending Button sliding back to seventh as, first, Kimi Raikkonen, then mark Webber, the two Mercedes and Felipe Massa found a way by.
Button would have been eighth had the Australian not subsequently retired, but Whitmarsh insisted that the had been nothing wrong with trying to go the distance, especially with a top three result in the offing.
“Our strategy involved an element of risk, but that risk was worth taking,” he claimed, “After all, the second- and third-placed finishers both ran the same strategy – and, although our cars didn't have sufficient pace to beat them to those podium finishes, our drivers boldly embraced the challenge set by a strategy that required them to attack and defend with an impressive mix of aggression and restraint.”
Button's finish was one place up on his grid slot and the Briton admitted that he had enjoyed the fight – particularly with Raikkonen - while it lasted.
“We thought we might have a chance of a podium but, in the end, we didn't have the pace to keep us ahead of the closing cars,” he confirmed, “It was good fun trying though, and we have to take risks if we want to get podium finishes this year.
“We expected to spend most of the race on the option tyre, so we'd set the car up for that. The prime tyre didn't work so well for me, and having to hold Kimi off for so long destroyed my rear tyres and made things very tricky. In the end, as I say, we simply didn't have enough pace to stop him overtaking.
“It was a good try though, and a P7 finish isn't too bad. We couldn't have done any better with a different strategy, I'm certain of that, and I'm glad we got some good points for the team.”
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