Thanks to his smooth driving style, McLaren’s Jenson Button is one of the drivers best placed to cope with Pirelli’s less durable tires. But at last weekend’s Turkish race Button fell foul of a bold three-stop strategy, which saw him initially pitting earlier than necessary before being lumbered with a long final stint. He eventually crossed the line in sixth. According to the Briton, in an interview with his official website, lessons have been learnt and with upgrades expected on his car at the forthcoming Spanish round, he’s targeting a return to the front…
Q: Turkey was a race where you seemed to hold all the right cards yet couldn't play them at the right times… Jenson Button: Yeah, pretty much. I think, like everyone else, we went into the race believing that a three-stopper was the best strategy. And while it quickly became quite apparent that most people were being pushed into a four-stopper, I looked after the tires in that first stint, managed to gain a few laps on the cars around me and still looked set to make a three-stop strategy work. I think we were on course for a decent result, but I suffered a bit when, in the team’s attempt to get me into clear air, I was boxed a bit too soon into the tires' life. Plus, I was released into traffic and then those earlier-than-necessary stops left me with a bit of a final stint, which meant that I really struggled for pace on tires that were really past their best.
Q: And what do you draw from that? JB: It's disappointing because, from the cockpit, I didn't really do anything wrong - I drove a clean, strong race and looked after the tires, but I suffered a bit as a result of that. As we've seen in the first three races, all the teams and drivers are on a steep learning curve with these tires and we just have to notch this one down to experience and move on. I think we’ll all learn something from Sunday and, hopefully, we can put it to good use as soon as possible. Besides, we didn’t really have the pace in the car to challenge for victory on Sunday. When you have the car beneath you that has good pace, it does make your strategy easier: when you're forced to push, you sometimes have to make a marginal call, or try to make a less-than-perfect strategy work. We never said it was easy, and it's good that we feel confident enough to make risky calls. I'll be heading into the next two races feeling more confident that we'll be back to our usual position up at the front.
Q: It looked like the team's performance took a knock in Turkey - do you think you'll bounce back in Spain and Monaco? JB: For Turkey, we'd planned to introduce a couple of useful upgrades, but for several reasons, we weren't able to get them onto the car. As we've said before, the championship battle is basically a development race, and we stumbled a little bit in Turkey because the progress that we'd anticipated making wasn’t quite there. But I know how this team reacts - they won't have liked having fallen off the bubble in Turkey, and we feel pretty confident that we'll be able to get the pace and reliability from some of our planned upgrades, so I'm optimistic that we'll have those components back on the car for Barcelona. We're always developing new solutions, too, and I know that the designers are pushing hard on all fronts to make sure we’re in a position to win more races.
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