• Monaco Grand Prix

Button rues safety car timing

ESPNF1 Staff
May 29, 2011 « Petrov cleared of serious injuries after crash | »
Jenson Button had a clear lead mid-way through the race, but eventually lost out to both Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso © Sutton Images

Jenson Button admitted he was disappointed not to finish higher than third in the Monaco Grand Prix, citing the timing of the safety cars as crucial to his chances of victory.

Button took the lead from Sebastian Vettel after the first round of pit stops, and proceeded to build a substantial lead on the super-soft tyres while Vettel and Alonso were on the harder compound. However, immediately after Button pitted for another set of the super-softs, Felipe Massa crashed in the tunnel and brought out the safety car, which Button said proved costly.

"It was all looking great at that point [when leading], the radio traffic was all positive," Button told the BBC. "Then we put another set of tyres on and then it was safety car. So we were in a very tricky situation. Sebastian decided to stay out but the problem was we hadn't put both sets of tyres on yet, so we had to make another stop which put us behind Fernando."

The front three went in to the last 18 laps of the race within a second of each other, as Vettel and Alonso tried to make it to the end on their set of harder compound tyres. Button said he was biding his time watching the pair, but that the red flag caused by Vitaly Petrov's accident ended any chance of victory.

"With ten laps to go to be fair it was looking like it could have been any of ours, because Sebastian's tyres were going, Fernando was pushing him really hard and - I was watching it, it was fun to watch - he was going to have a go in to turn one and they were either going to crash or he was going to get through and I was going to have a go on the next lap.

So any of us could have won at that point, but obviously with the safety car and then the red flag we all put new tyres on, which was strange and I didn't know that was the regulations - I need to read up on it. And then you can't do anything, we're all on the same age tyres, we're all about the same speed so that's how it ended."

Button said that although he was disappointed, the strategy was the right one and praised the work his McLaren team had done during the weekend.

"The team did a great job this weekend, I'm very happy with our strategy. We went for it, we had to try something different to Sebastian to beat him here, and it was working, but it didn't work in the end. I suppose you need to take in to account that there's possibly going to be safety cars, but we had to take the risk and go for more stops to get some clear air, and it looked like it was going to work but it didn't.

"But we shouldn't be upset with what we did this weekend, I think we did a good job, we're just disappointed not to get a better result. The guys deserved a bit more, but we got a third which is not so bad - two podiums in the last two races - and hopefully we'll have another good race in Canada."

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