18 November 2013
United States Grand Prix: Button’s afternoon enlivened by late passes
Jenson Button toiled for much of the USGP before being rewarded for his efforts with a late run into the points.
Jenson Button admitted that his United States Grand Prix had not been the most exhilarating until coming to life in the closing stages.
For the third race running, the Briton compromised his afternoon by making contact with another car on the first lap contact and damaging his front wing. On this occasion, however, the McLaren team opted not to lose further time by changing the damaged part, leaving Button to race on with decreased levels of downforce. Unable to extract the best from an already troubled car, Button – on the occasion of equalling David Coulthard's all-time appearance record by a Briton in F1 – toiled well outside the points for much of the race, before making progress towards the top ten late on.
“As in all the past few races, I made contact with another car on the first lap – and that contact broke my left-hand front-wing endplate,” the 2009 world champion revealed, “It wasn't quite as bad as in Abu Dhabi, but it still left me with quite a lot of understeer.
“We considered changing the nose-box at the pit-stop but, instead, the mechanics added some extra front wing, and that helped to re-balance the car. It still wasn't ideal, because losing downforce at the front doesn't affect only the front-end, it affects air-flow across the whole car as well, but I still enjoyed the race.
“The first 30 laps, during which I was stuck behind Felipe [Massa], were particularly tough, but I was able to make some good moves at the end, and that made our day a bit more interesting.”
The most important of those moves saw Button overcome a stubborn Daniel Ricciardo, surviving a couple of stern defensive moves to finally pass the Australian around the outside of turn one.
“Even though I was only battling for a single world championship point, I still wanted to do the best job I could this afternoon,” the Briton insisted, “Now, I'm hoping for a trouble-free, exciting - and prosperous - final grand prix of the season in Brazil next weekend.”
“Jenson drove very well in trying circumstances this afternoon, hampered in [his] efforts to make significant forward progress by a pit-stop strategy that didn't quite work out and a circuit whose layout always makes overtaking extremely difficult,” McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh suggested.
“We opted to put both our drivers on early one-stop strategies, in an attempt to allow them to undercut their nearest rivals, but, as things turned out, we failed to gain any advantage by doing that.
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