Button goes long to salvage points
6 October 2013
Jenson Button produced the longest individual stint of the Korean Grand Prix as he took advantage of two safety car periods to claim eighth place after an early pit-stop for repairs.
The Briton, who started from eleventh on the grid, was quickly into the points positions after a good getaway, but getting caught up in the melee at turn three left his McLaren with damage to its front wing which, after a short period of evaluation, prompted the team to call its driver in for a replacement.
“Turn three was always going to be something of a mess on the first lap and, sure enough, there was an incident,” Button confirmed, “A car got hit, went wide and hit me. That contact damaged my front wing endplate. It didn't really cause me too much of a problem in terms of staying with the cars in front, but it really started to hurt the temperatures, so we had to pit for a new nosebox on lap four, and that cost me a bit of time.”
Taking the opportunity to switch from his original supersoft Pirellis to the more durable mediums, Button knew that he still had to make his rubber last longer than most if he was to get anything out of the race but, once again, his smooth style – even in the recalcitrant MP4-28 - paid dividends as he made one further stop, on lap 22 of 55, before running long on his final set of tyres to take the chequered flag in eighth place.
The remainder of the race wasn't without incident, as the second stop saw Button pull away, stop briefly and then rejoin the fray, but he was generally happy with the result.
“Our pace on the prime tyre was very good, however, and I was able to run two strong stints on the prime to stay in the hunt,” the 2009 world champion acknowledged, “During my second pit-stop, the [pit-release] lights went green then went red again, so I briefly stopped as a precaution straight after I was released. I had a quick look behind me to check that everything was okay – everything seemed fine, so I continued.
“Considering those delays, eighth place wasn't a bad result but, still, I was a bit gutted to lose seventh right at the end of the race. As soon as I lost the DRS to the bunch of cars in front, that was it for me - I couldn't get any temperature back in the tyres, and it was always going to be difficult with Nico [Rosberg] at the end as his tyres were almost 10 laps fresher than mine.
“I did 33 laps on my final set, whereas the previous set did 18, but I'm really happy to have picked up those points – four points were about as good as it was going to get today.”
With team-mate Sergio Perez suffering a dramatic delamination after flat-spotting his second set of tyres, and requiring his own front end change as a result, it was a busy day in the pits for the McLaren team.
“Sometimes, it takes a difficult race to bring out the strengths of our people – and I'm pleased that, despite our drivers enduring a puncture and two nosebox changes this afternoon, we still managed to get both Jenson and Checo into the points,” team principal Martin Whitmarsh commented.
“That was achieved through a combination of great tactics – our strategists worked on the fly to ensure Jenson recovered superbly from an earlier-than-planned stop to replace a damaged front wing - well-executed teamwork, as our mechanics performed brilliantly under pressure to replace two broken front wings and a severely delaminated front tyre, and great driver focus, as Jenson drove a scarcely believable 33-lap stint on one set of tyres, effectively turning his race into a one-stopper. Checo, meanwhile, showed great racing spirit to take the battle to those around him after a delamination destroyed his right-front tyre and his front wing.
“To incorporate all those setbacks into a single afternoon, yet still run competitively, is a great bonus to the team. And while the final classification may only show we finished eighth and tenth, those bald facts cruelly fail to do justice to the way we overcame adversity on our way to those positions.”