Jenson Button has taken the blame for the severe understeer which blighted his first two stints of Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.
It was a polarising race around Suzuka for Button, who destroyed his tyres in the first two stints of the Grand Prix as he struggled with understeer, a result of a misjudged setup change made on the grid, before a change to the front wing at his second stop transformed the car, which saw the 2009 champion pull off a number of impressive passing manoeuvres in the closing laps of the race, ultimately finishing ninth.
“The first two stints of the race were pretty difficult as I had massive understeer”, said the 33-year-old. “That was my fault: on the lap-to-grid, it felt like I had too much front-end, so I took some wing out of the car. It was the wrong thing to do – it left me with too much understeer, and I kept locking up the fronts, which destroyed the front tyres.
“For the third set, we added some front-wing, and the balance came back to me. In the end, the car was really good to drive, especially my final stint on the Option tyre, which was a lot of fun, especially as I was able to chase down and pass a couple of other cars.
“In the closing laps, I made a great move on Paul [di Resta] around the outside of the chicane. I made the same move on Felipe [Massa] too, but he forced me over the kerb, so I ended up getting him on the straight.
“So it was an enjoyable end to the race, but a disappointing beginning.”
Sergio Perez had an eventful run to 15th in the sister MP4-28, after almost clashing with Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes at his first pitstop, becoming the victim of another McLaren pit blunder at his second stop, before finally suffering a puncture after a late incident with Nico Rosberg at the final chicane.
”It was a very unfortunate afternoon for us”, said the Mexican. “I had such bad luck as things just didn’t go our way today. In fact, I think you could say that everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.
“We had an incident with Nico [Rosberg] in the pitlane, some of slow pitstops, and then another incident with Nico, which caused me to suffer a puncture, luckily, however, right at the entrance of the pitlane.
“After a difficult race like this, all we can do is look ahead. In two weeks’ time we’ll start all over again. I’ll be hoping for more luck in New Delhi.”
McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh was full of praise for both of his drivers, but was disappointed to see Sergio Perez miss out on points, insisting that the Mexican would have been on for a strong top-10 finish had it not been for the two incidents involving Nico Rosberg.
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