26 October 2013
Indian Grand Prix: Button - Heart told me I should be on options
Both Jenson Button and Sergio Perez will be looking to steal a strategic advantage when the Indian Grand Prix gets underway, having opted for the harder tyre for their timed runs in qualifying.
Jenson Button admits that he faced a classic head versus heart dilemma in the final phase of qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix, weighing up Q3 performance against race day potential.
With a big difference in both the performance and durability of the two Pirelli compounds provided at the Buddh International Circuit, teams were faced with the decision of balancing a leading grid position with the knowledge that it would have to be traded off against an early pit-stop on raceday. In the end, six of the cars in Saturday's pole position shoot-out went for the soft option, but Button – and McLaren team-mate Sergio Perez – were not among them, qualifying on row five as a result.
“Running the prime in Q3 was probably the best strategy call for the race but, of course, that hurt, because my heart was telling me that I ought to be out there on the option,” Button, who had used the softer rubber in both Q1 and Q2, conceded.
“Our qualifying runs on the option looked really good – I was quickest in Q1 – but the prime tyre didn't work as well for us. I found it more difficult because I couldn't get any temperature into the tyre, so I was about half a second off in the first sector on my run in Q3….”
Despite his disappointment of being slowest of all in the final session, the Briton acknowledged that those on the pit-wall had better information than him.
“Running the prime was probably the right thing to do, and I'm sure it's the best tyre for tomorrow,” he allowed, “I'm looking forward to an exciting, eventful and unpredictable race.”
“Qualifying today was clearly dominated by the teams' tyre considerations for the race tomorrow,” team principal Martin Whitmarsh confirmed, “It's always tempting to take a short-term view – if we'd gone for the option tyre in Q3, we could potentially have been halfway up the top 10 – but I don't think we'd be headed into tomorrow's race feeling comfortable had we done that.
“Fundamentally, it was about doing the best thing for the race tomorrow and, if the experience of the last few days is borne out tomorrow, then we're probably happy that we're not starting the race on the option. We've very much focused on putting ourselves in the best possible position for the race. We've got two very good racers, both of whom have shown impressive flashes of speed this weekend, so I think we're looking at a competitive showing tomorrow.”
Perez also had questions about his strategy, but accepted that the long-term view was more important that gaining a place or two in qualifying.
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