Button believes podium was within reach

2013 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Jenson Button feels McLaren could have beaten Mercedes had he not been forced to retire following a pit stop problem in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

“It’s easy for me to say I would have been on the podium because we didn’t finish,” said Button after the race. “I’m sure a lot of people would disagree with me but I think we had a chance to fight with Mercedes.”

“We had one less pit stop to do,” he pointed out, “I don’t know what would have happened but I think at worst it would have been fifth. We could have pushed the Mercedes, they were fighting among themselves. It would have been interesting to see where we would have been.”

Button said the MP4-28’s pace was “a good improvement from the last race”.

“Only a week ago, we never would have thought we’d be fighting for fifth or a little bit better,” he said. “So there are positives but it’s very tough when you have an issue like this because it’s a lot of points to throw away.”

“Even being fifth, it’s ten points. So that’s tough but the positive are that we are improving. I can see that we’ll be even more competitive in China.”

“I think we’ve made some good improvements,” Button added. “This circuit has helped us a little bit because it is smoother than Albert Park. But in general we’ve been trying things and trying to understand the way the aero’s working. I think we have a much better understanding now and we put the car where it’s working at its best.

“I think we’re getting there. I don’t think we’ll have such a big step as we’ve had from the first race to this race in China but every little bit will count. Chance of finishing very high here today, hopefully we’ll do that again in China.”

2013 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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52 comments on “Button believes podium was within reach”

  1. Last year had a fast car but made loads of mistakes. This year they have a slow car… and are still making loads of mistakes.

    I feel sorry for Button, he drove a really good race today. Things could have been very different with the Mercedes battle if Button had been closing them down.

    1. Jenson’s drive today was flattered by the absense of Alonso, and the out of position cars of Lotus and Force India not to mention Massa. MacLaren will be lucky to finish in the points in China. Obviously mixed conditions favour the slower cars so they will be praying for the same again in China.

      1. No it wasn’t flattered by Alonso’s loss. Alonso made a mistake and paid for it. I do believe Alonso would have won the race but he didn’t, was sensitive enough to make the right decision about his wing. Button noticed in nanoseconds the issue with his tyre when many other drivers would have been losing it at turn one.

        I watched the timings closely and it’s true that Button’s pace once the race settled was on par with the Mercedes with less stops. He was also 2 to 3 seconds a lap faster than his team mate in the last stint despite being so far back. He ran a good race considering the dire fortunes of the team/car.

        1. If he noticed in nano seconds, he would not have traveled the distance he did before being told to stop.

      2. @blackmamba That’s like saying Vettel won only because all the other cars finished behind him.

        1. @psynrg

          Damn straight!

      3. Give it up. Stop wasting people’s screen

      4. And one less pit stop strategy didn’t work with Perez who had to pit just before final lap for fresh tyres…

    2. Hopefully it could have spared us another embarrassing episode of team orders today, as you say a bit of a shame because it might have been a good battle @tommyb89

    3. I 100% agree with you, I also feel sorry for Button, but both him and Whitmarsh made it impossible for Hamilton to stay with the team..now they are getting their just deserts..! Roll on mediocre Mclaren!! lol

      1. How did they exactly make it impossible for Hamilton to stay?…

        1. By refusing to give Lewis the team orders and #1 status he was given at Mercedes?

          1. Why should he be? He hasn’t shown that he deserves it. Yes, he’s fast, but not so overly quick that he none of his past two team mates have been completely obliterated by him. Nor has he been given no.1 status at Mercedes. I’m sure the team told Lewis that if he were to save fuel, then he would be safe from Rosberg should he slow down.

            I don’t believe for a second that Hamilton has been given clear no.1 status at the team, especially when Rosberg has been very patient with them for the past 3 years, and been the better of their drivers.

    4. @tommyb89 Too early to exaggerate and say that McLaren have been making ‘loads of mistakes’, it’s only been two races and bar the loose front-right and the sub-par car, which mainly stemmed from a decision to begin a new development curve for the season, I haven’t see any other mistakes the team has made operationally and strategically.

      1. 1. Running the car in a configuration that was not legal during testing after purportedly fitting suspension components the wrong way around, which led to unrepresentative lap times (and presumably also data) in Jerez. Operational error.

        2. Sending Button out for 3 timed laps (6 in total) in Australia Q3 when rivals set 1 timed lap on fresh tyres at the end of the session, meaning Button started the race with older tyres than anyone else and subsequently had to pit on lap 4 of the race. Strategy error.

        3. Pitting Perez onto supersoft tyres for his first pitstop after starting on the mediums in Australia. They should have waited until the end of the race when the track was fully rubbered in and the car was at its lightest, although to be fair it didn’t seem to make much difference doing that for Sutil. Strategy error.

        4. Leaving both drivers out on worn intermediate tyres in Malaysia Q3 on a drying track which was constantly improving whilst some rivals pitted for fresh inters and gained more pace. In fairness several other teams also got it wrong. Strategy error.

        5. Botched pitstop in Malaysia race. This was mainly the fault of the front jack man for releasing the car too soon but also perhaps slightly Button’s fault for pulling away when the Mclaren green/red overhead pitstop system was still showing a red light for the front right wheel. As Whitmarsh said, the team were trigger happy on that one. Operational error.

  2. On a dry track, both cars got past Q2 in Malaysia, which must indicate that the car is fundamentally fast, just one that is difficult to setup. The times Button set before the rains started, were very fast indeed, on both the hard and medium range tyres.
    Seeing how he fared last year in qualifying, I can’t say he gets the most out of the car in one lap, but over a race distance, he can be right up there with the others.

  3. And if he did finish the race and finish at a lower position as fith he would have had an other explanation for it…

    1. Lewis was obviously only good enough for fourth by his own admission yet I don’t see people asking for an explanation from him.

      1. Probably because Lewis has already stated this, and I quote:

        “I have to say big congratulations to Nico. He drove a smarter and more controlled race than me this afternoon and deserved to finish where I did. The team made the call for us to hold positions and we both respected that.”

        1. an explanation as to why he wasn’t fast enough to justify 4th without an excuse.

          Never mind you probably think I am dissing Lewis, I am just enjoying his fans stunted by their own logic.

          1. Yes, you’re dissing him. You singled him out on a topic about Button and after his words praising Nico’s race and explaining his lack of pace due to fuel saving…

      2. The thing is Lewis doesn’t always come up with excuses why he didn’t perform, when his teammate seem to be on the pace. (see last season.)

        1. one word ‘Twitter’

        2. Button didn’t ‘come up’ with an excuse . . . . or did you not watch the race?

        3. So witch race are you referring too

  4. I think Button staying in the race would have created a different outcome, for sure. With his pace towards the end, and one less pit stop, he would have been on the back of the Mercedes, or at least very close. This would have then pushed Rosberg into getting passed Hamilton, for fear of losing 4th, and then it’s possible that Button would have been either 4th or 5th.

    I think the podium was out of reach, but he drove a thoroughly good race today, and was unfortunate to have it torn away from him the way it did. It’s clear that the McLaren is still lacking somewhat, but after just a week, they have made some great improvements, and could well be a little closer come China.

    It’s difficult to say where abouts they are now, with Lotus, Ferrari and Force India all having a pretty poor race. However, Jenson was ahead of them before their races began to decline (bar Alonso), and so it is still quite promising.

    I think one of the issues that McLaren face more so than the car, is Perez. He didn’t exactly look very good today. It’s probably too early to tell, and I will wait until the McLaren starts looking better. But he hasn’t really been able to match Button’s pace so far.

    1. Sergio Perez pitted for new tyres right before the end, the 3 stops strategy did not work with him, I doubt Button would still be competitive towards the end if he went through wit 3 stops.

      1. @jcost – I’m not so sure about that. I think Perez’ tyre saving ability was flattered by the Sauber for the past couple of years. Jenson himself said that if he were to drive the way that Sergio had done, then his tyres would not have lasted as well.

        I also think that given Button was in a lot more free air than Perez, and is far more experienced, he would have made them last. Obviously, it’s easy to say that without the evidence there, but free air in itself would have conserved the tyres a lot more.

  5. Well it wasn’t. Simple as that. McLaren had maybe the 4th or 5th fastest car today. Not worthy of a podium.

    1. Which I think shows how mighty impressive Jenson was today. Given the fact that he was about 12-13 seconds behind the Mercedes cars before his pitstop and that they had to pit once more I think the podium was within reach.

      That said, I’ve yet to decide about the driver of the weekend vote but it will either go to him or Hulkenberg/Bianchi. I think those were the only drivers that outperformed their cars this weekend.

      1. Did you see the times the Mclaren set in Q2?
        Even in FP3, Button was the fastest driver on the hard tyres.

  6. Another pit-stop calamity… the frustrating thing is McLaren are among the fastest when it comes to pit-stop turnaround times … that is, if nothing unusual occurs ….. their “unusual” pit-stops seem to however, occur more often than the other teams.

  7. Keep believing Jenson, keep believing. You’re going to need it…

    1. “We had one less pit stop to do,” he pointed out

      It’s true, and before he pitted for the last time (and disaster struck), he was up there with the Mercedes cars that were yet to pit once more. So what role does belief play in it?

    2. I think that their pace today show that he could have been right up there with the Mercedes cars, so why would you indicate that hoping of folly here? Hamilton was having to save fuel a lot, and Rosberg a bit too, so he might have been able to push them and get past at least one of them.

    3. Typical negative “Button is crap” response.
      Get over yourself.

      Truth of the matter was Button had a similar pace to the Mercs. Whether he could keep that pace up we cannot say…
      However, the facts cannot be ignored that the potential was there. Stop pulling the wool over your eyes and face the truth of the matter.

      1. Well said

  8. McLaren is a great team with a lot of smart people and resources. The risk they are in right now is that they might end up in a scenario like Williams. Becoming a team with a lots of past glory and history but finding it difficult to attract top talents and money. The more McLaren does these mistakes, the more they lose the confidence of the pitlane. The talents like Alonso, Kimi and Hamilton had to look somewhere else. They might end up with drivers hugely backed by sponsors rather than top talents craving to race for them. They will be suddenly relegated to second , third or Forth choice in the pitlane. Once the team is in that black home like Williams it is very hard to get out it. Some wonder kid will have to come up as a savior as a racer or designer.

    Hopefully they will survive these bad patches. It is not the the individual mistakes but the sum total people look at eventually.

    1. I very much doubt that McLaren will fall that far down the field. They have already made progress in one week, and they’ve been in similar situations before. In 2009, they had a terrible car, and came back from it. In 2011, they had a dreadful pre-season, and came back by the first race.

      There are still a lot of talented people at McLaren, and though they can be over-ambitious, which can lead to mistakes as we saw today, I still think that they will always be somewhere near the front.

  9. My suggestion, stay off the absinthe Jenson!

    1. Immature, uneducated comment.

      Attempting to make a humorous comment and coming off as a jerk, to be honest.

      Jenson’s comments come justified with facts from the race.
      Props to him for remaining positive, though… Regardless of whether what he says comes true or not.

      1. *Sigh*

        1. Yes.
          That’s exactly what I said after reading your comment.

          At least you’re right about something…

  10. Yes, Jenson, and you and/or Hamilton would have at least one more title if not for various team mistakes, including failures properly to attach a wheel. Good though that you are committed to see out your career with McLaren.

  11. I am not saying Jenson is a Fernando Alonso but the reason Nando stayed in the title fight last year was because he and Ferrari always maximised the situation. Today was an example where McLaren could have done the same and the team let him down. If the MP4-28 does indeed turn into a rocket ship McLaren may rue this day.

  12. From a McLaren fan.
    They messed up, part of the game, but I do not see that they would of overhauled the Mercedes today.
    They ended Jenson’s race early and it was reported to Ted @ Sky that his front tyre/tyres were bald.
    That was three laps from race distance. Would he have had to pit again as Sergio did?
    Who knows.
    Up side is the pace was better generally. But consistency is the key. Lets hope the solution is in sight, even if a little way off.

    1. Was it also not said that he set a string of fastest laps whilst he was languishing in 14th place? Probably pushing the tyres hard to recover lost ground before calling it a day.

      I was impressed with his race today, up until the bungled pit stop – pace was there it seems, and the comments coming from McLaren seem to be alot more positive than they were this time last week.

  13. I was impressed by Button today. He kept pace with the frontrunners for much of the race, he fought hard for the positions he had, didn’t let his head drop, and could have finished at least 5th, possibly 4th if Rosberg had been allowed to get past Lewis.

    Sad to see Finger problems returning to McLaren though.

  14. They’re a talented enough outfit so I am confident they will find their way soon.

  15. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    24th March 2013, 23:07

    Like Jenson I’m optimistic and I like where McLaren stands in the constructor championship. I think 7th place with 4 points is a promising result after 2 races. Could it have been better? Sure. Is it better? No. Can they improve? You bet.

  16. Ha ha ha, in your dreams Button!

  17. Jim (@the-black-earl)
    26th March 2013, 11:47

    Hello guys, I’m happy to be part of this great F1 community! It’s frustrating that Macca continue to has last year’s opperational problems. It was a great race for Jenson and I really that podiums was close, anyway wishMcLaren can update the car until China. Come on guys!

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