• Australian Grand Prix

Button frustrated by penalty

ESPNF1 Staff
March 27, 2011 « Petrov happy with maiden podium | »
Jenson Button toiled behind Felipe Massa before being penalised for passing him by cutting a corner © Sutton Images

Jenson Button was left frustrated after a penalty for cutting a corner while overtaking Felipe Massa ruined his chances of challenging for a podium at the Australian Grand Prix. He finished sixth in the end, but felt that did not represent his pace after an impressive drive back through the field.

Button was fighting for fifth with Massa when the incident happened and was struggling to get past despite having a faster car. Entering the high-speed chicane at turns 11 and 12, he led Massa into turn 11 but then had to back off and was behind the Ferrari on the entrance to turn 12. With nowhere left to go, he cut the corner and took the position.

There was no doubting that Button gained a position by leaving the track, but he argued he had already got ahead of Massa heading into turn 11.

"I got stuck behind Massa [at the start] because I got a poor exit out of turn one and that was the worst move of the race because he was so slow and he's the most difficult person to overtake," Button told BBC Sport after the race. "He blocked very well, but it just slowed us both down massively. I tried to overtake him in turn 11 and 12, he went so deep into the corner and he pushed me wide and I couldn't go round the corner any more so I cut the corner. I was in front before we entered the corner and then I didn't know what to do."

McLaren then contacted the FIA to ask if Button should give the position back, but did not get a response before Massa pitted and made it impossible to reverse the order. Team boss Martin Whitmarsh said his team was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

"I'd say Felipe was reasonably spirited in his defence and I think Jenson felt he had no alternative other than to leave the track when he was trying to get past him," Whitmarsh said. "At that point we asked the FIA 'What do you want us to do?' We got no advice and then we were then told we had a stewards' enquiry."

Button said his was race was ruined once the drive-through penalty was issued.

"The team said stay where you are we'll see what the stewards say, but as soon as Ferrari saw that happen they pitted Massa, and as soon as that happened we got a drive-through," he added. "I don't know if that was done on purpose or not. I got a drive-through and then had to fight my way through, which was quite fun but being that far back is very frustrating because the pace was much better than that."