• Brazilian Grand Prix

Mid-season slump cost McLaren - Button

ESPN Staff
November 22, 2012 « Perez still eyes Mercedes scalp | Force India set for £50m investment »
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Jenson Button believes McLaren has been unlucky with its reliability this season, but says the team really lost its chance to fight for the title during a mid-season slump earlier this year.

After the first three rounds of the year Button was second to team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the championship, but a series of disappointing results from Bahrain to Great Britain - with the exception of Hamilton's win in Canada - damaged both drivers' hopes. In more recent races McLaren has struggled with reliability problems, but Button says the reason he is not in the title fight in Brazil this weekend is down to the mid-season slump.

"We have had reliability issues but when you actually look at it the reliability issues have been on weekends," Button said. "We did a young driver test which was 1,400kms and we didn't have one issue at all. We have been a little bit unlucky. Sometimes you do get failures and you have to rectify the issue but it's come at the wrong time for us.

"The most difficult part for us this year was just before the summer break - the last two races before the break were fine but before that we just didn't have the pace. It's not just the reliability issues, it's the reason why we're not fighting at the front this year; the pace in that period of time was not good enough compared to our competitors."

He added: "We tried new things when I struggled to get tyre temperature more than most and it actually didn't work, it destroyed the tyres around Monaco and Canada time. Lewis had a good race in Canada and I had such a bad race, and in a way that was good for the rest of the year because we had the two extremes and we could look at the data, get in to the simulator and change the balance around so we could work out why I had so much degradation and he didn't. It was really useful to learn what you can do and what you can't do with these tyres, because it's different to what you normally think."

Button is set to be joined by Sergio Perez at McLaren in 2013 when Lewis Hamilton leaves the team for Mercedes.

Asked if he was disappointed to see Hamilton leave, Button said: "I'm not disappointed because things always change. I'd be disappointed if Paddy Lowe left the team because he's the guy that's going to help me achieve in the future. With Lewis, drivers come and go and that's pretty normal in the team. It's been a good three years and it's amazing how quick it's gone by, but it's been a good partnership and we've had quite a lot of fun over those three years."