• Japanese Grand Prix

Button rues tyre strategy

ESPNF1 Staff
October 10, 2010 « Podiums enough says Alonso | »
Lewis Hamilton chills on the drivers' parade lap ... the frustration was to come later © Sutton Images

Jenson Button admitted McLaren got its tyre strategy wrong after he finished fourth, one place ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton, at the Japanese Grand Prix.

He remained on prime tyres for most of the race, eventually pitting on the 40th lap when in the lead. He returned in fifth, overtaking Hamilton who was struggling with gearbox problems.

"I thought the others would struggle on the options at the start of the race, they didn't," Button told the BBC. "I wasn't really able to push Fernando, and I had Lewis right behind me. We need to look at the data but to stay out when everyone else pitted was probably the wrong thing. Maybe you should cover the people that you are racing and we didn't do that.

"At the end of the race when we did put the option on it was great. The car had a lot of grip and I was very fast. We weren't quick enough to beat the Red Bulls and the Ferrari, possibly not. Just got to look at the data and see why we stayed out for so long, I think it was 40 laps. It was quite a tough race on such old tyres. I don't mean we would have finished any further up but I think it is just useful information for the future."

Hamilton's eventful weekend ended with him nursing his car to the finish after he lost third gear on the replacement gearbox which had already cost him five places on the starting grid. In the end, it was decided he would only use fourth gear and above. That allowed Button past but he was never seriously challenged by Michael Schumacher who was a distant sixth.

"You have to try and remain optimistic, but I didn't think it was going to make it if I'm honest," he told the BBC. "It was making a lot of noise, so I just kept my fingers crossed and tried not to do too many shifts and look after it. I had a good gap to those behind me so I had a bit of time I could waste.

"I am just so disappointed for myself and the team. We're doing everything we can to score points. There was the big mistake on my part on Friday. The gearbox change. Then the [new] gearbox kind of broke, I couldn't use third gear so I could only use fourth to seventh. So I lost ground to Jenson, but I am just so thankful that I finished the race. It was the first time for a long time."

"There are still three races to go, still 75 points available, but these guys continue to pick up points consistently, I don't know when they last had a DNF so it would be very, very difficult. But we'll keep pushing."