Suzuka is one of Jenson Button's favourite circuits to race at, but chances are that he won't count the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix among his career highlights after the afternoon turned into a hard slog - and he only had himself to blame for it.

"The first two stints of the race were pretty difficult as I had massive understeer," he explained. "That was my fault: on the lap-to-grid, it felt like I had too much front-end, so I took some wing out of the car.

"It was the wrong thing to do," he admitted. "It left me with too much understeer, and I kept locking up the fronts, which destroyed the front tyres."

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That wasn't Button's only problem of the day, with the McLaren also losing two positions at the start of the race in the incident-packed first run through the opening corners at Suzuka and immediately dropping out of the top ten.

"Jenson made a good start off the line, but through no fault of his own was then embroiled in a first-corner incident," said McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh after the race. "As a result, he also flat-spotted his tyres, which caused a significant vibration that we elected to curtail by bringing him in for his first tyre stop earlier than we otherwise would have done."

All in all, Button's strategy had been thoroughly compromised even before he finished the first lap.

"We were consequently forced to convert his planned two-stop strategy to a three-stopper, which was a pity," added Whitmarsh. "But he drove a truly excellent race thereafter, taking advantage of rubber fresher than that of his rivals in his fourth and final stint to pull off some excellent overtaking manoeuvres.

Button also had the front wing dialled back in for his fourth and final stint, which helped him get back on pace with his rivals. "In the end, the car was really good to drive, especially my final stint on the option tyre which was a lot of fun - especially as I was able to chase down and pass a couple of other cars.

"In the closing laps, I made a great move on Paul around the outside of the chicane. I made the same move on Felipe too, but he forced me over the kerb, so I ended up getting him on the straight," he said, recalling his late passes of Force India's Paul di Resta and Ferrari's Felipe Massa.

"So it was an enjoyable end to the race, but a disappointing beginning," Button summed up after coming home in ninth place.

Meanwhile, Sergio Perez' race was bedevilled with a series of encounters with the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, which started during the the first round of pit stops on lap 12. "It was a very unfortunate afternoon for us," Perez admitted afterwards.

"We had an incident with Nico in the pitlane," he said of the incident in which the Mercedes pulled out dangerously right into the path of the McLaren as the two vied to beat each other out of pit lane.

Rosberg received a drive-thru penalty for the incident, but Perez also suffered by ending up stuck running for an extended period behind the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez, and then suffering further setbacks in the form of a series of slow stops all of which meant that the two found themselves battling for position again in the closing stages of the race.

"[There was] another incident with Nico, which caused me to suffer a puncture - luckily, however, right at the entrance of the pitlane," said Perez, after his left rear tyre was sliced open on the sideplate of Rosberg's front wing.

Perez didn't ascribe blame for the incident, and the stewards took no action, but Rosberg said that he hadn't been happy with Perez' driving.

"It's not good what he's doing, we know he has issues. If you move once to block you have to move out of the way, the rules are clear," Rosberg fumed. "It was very good he punctured his tyre and then it was just onward from there." Rosberg ended up finishing in eighth, while the late call to pit lane dropped Perez down to 15th place a lap off the leaders by the finish.

"Had that [puncture] not occurred, [Checo], like Jenson, would have earned some valuable points," was Whitmarsh's analysis.

"I had such bad luck, things just didn't go our way today. In fact, I think you could say that everything that could go wrong, did go wrong!" Perez said ruefully. "We had a bad pit stop again, the puncture, Nico, it was a mess of a race.

"After a difficult race like this, all we can do is look ahead. In two weeks' time we'll start all over again; I'll be hoping for more luck in New Delhi!"