Jenson Button says his McLaren-Honda in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was the best it has been all season, but rued the pit-lane clash between himself and Valtteri Bottas that he felt scuppered his hopes of a better result.
Despite the limitations of his package relative to his rivals, Button says he was able to stay within the DRS zone of the larger mid-field group during the first stint.
However, he would lose time in the pit lane after an erroneous early release by the Williams team led to Bottas tagging the back of his car as he pulled into the McLaren box. With the McLaren mechanics hesitating in caution, Button – who expected the contact - says that time lost ultimately cost him the chance to stay in touch with the cars around him.
“I saw the Williams was going to get released when he wasn't really supposed to, as I was pulling in, so I was bracing for the hit and it happened. It disrupted our pit stop quite a bit as the boys were a bit scared when I came into the box and that cost us a bit of time.
“The worst thing for me was that until then I could stay in contention to be within the DRS zone, which was the whole game for us this year. We lost that and it cost us a lot of lap time.”
Despite this, Button felt positive about the car's pace in race conditions around the Yas Marina Circuit, saying it had the measure of the Williams in certain areas.
“Defending was pretty good; I was being aggressive and having fun. I actually overtook a Williams too, but when you're racing a Williams you can really see their strengths and what our weaknesses are at the moment. You wouldn't think I could keep behind me a car that was so much quicker on the straights but I could, so there are definitively positives to take from that.
“The car was the best it has been all year, but we know where our weaknesses are. We still need to improve the car, because it's not the quickest car out there, but it's not bad. As a package we need to improve everywhere, so that's the goal for the winter. The guys are doing a great job and we have to keep pushing to be fighting the Williams for higher positions next year.”