24 November 2013
Brazilian Grand Prix: Button: We needed this result
McLaren veteran celebrates the team's best result of a tough 2013 F1 campaign, but thoughts are already turning to the future...
Jenson Button could hardly have been more removed from the disconsolate figure he cut in the Austin paddock a week ago, as he celebrated taking McLaren's best result of a difficult year in the Interlagos finale.
Having insisted that he needed to go away and take a good look at himself after struggling in the USGP, Button arrived in Brazil in a better frame of mind – only to be deflated again after registering only 15th place in qualifying. That became 14th when team-mate Sergio Perez took a grid penalty, before a decision to start the race on the harder of the two Pirelli compounds paid dividends with a rapid rise up the order.
Quickly into the points positions, Button found that he could race with the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari, eventually finding himself running behind countryman Lewis Hamilton and on course for a top five finish. When the Mercedes was then penalised for a clash with Valtteri Bottas' Williams, Button moved into fourth place, and held the spot to the end, recording McLaren's highest finish of the year.
It may not have been the podium that Button had said he was chasing in the build-up to the race, but maintained McLaren's record of having had a top four finish in each of its seasons in the top flight and, along with team-mate Perez's run from 19th to sixth, provided a welcome morale boost to all at Woking as F1 moves into a new era in 2014.
“I'm pleased to have finished fourth - it's almost the podium position that I came here aiming for,” the 2009 world champion exclaimed, “I'm also pleased for 'Checo'. He won't be with us next year, but he drove a great race today.
“We really needed today's result, as the 2013 season hasn't been an easy one. It's been tough for all of us at the circuits, but it's probably been even tougher for the guys back at the factory, working flat-out to make parts. They're a really amazing bunch of totally passionate and utterly dedicated people, and they richly deserve the 'lift' that today's result will have given them.
“This is a great way to end the year, and now our focus turns squarely to 2014. McLaren is an incredibly strong and powerful organisation – and, believe me, we will fight back.”
Next season will see a lot of change around Button, with McLaren saying goodbye not only to his current team-mate, but also to its title sponsor.
“I want to say a big 'thank you' to Vodafone,” the Briton noted, “They have been an absolutely incredible title partner, and we've also had a lot of fun together – both on and off the track. Some of the videos they made with us have been truly brilliant and I'm sad to see them leave, but I guess nothing lasts forever.”
For team principal Martin Whitmarsh, the double top six finish represented a high point in a season of lows.
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