"A bittersweet end to an eventful race"
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Sunday May 15
Jenson Button finished ninth in a Spanish Grand Prix that was dominated by thrill and incident.
Starting 12th, Jenson made a perfect getaway to dive ahead of two cars into the first corner. When the two leaders collided at Turn Four, he finished the first lap in eighth position. From there, he managed his tyres through the race, resisted the pressure from his chasing team-mate Fernando Alonso, pulled off a feisty overtake on Esteban Gutierrez at Turn 10 on lap 61, and maintained his pace ahead of a fast-closing Daniil Kvyat, who was gaining fast on far fresher rubber.
By his own admission, Fernando didn’t make a good start, but shadowed Jenson, and ran inside the top 10, for much of the race. Unfortunately, he retired on lap 45, when sitting in 12th, preparing to charge for a top-10 finishing position in the final laps.
FERNANDO ALONSO, MP4-31-04
|Finished:||DNF - 45 laps|
|Fastest Lap:||1m29.750s on lap 41 (+2.802s, 13th)|
|Pitstops:||Two: lap 11 (2.41s) and 40 (3.40s) [Opt/Pri]|
“My car felt okay this afternoon, but I didn’t manage to make a good start and lost everything – so my race was effectively over by the first corner.
“After that, I followed Jenson for 50 laps and had traffic all race long, so I wasn’t able to do too many laps in free air or show my true pace.
“At the end, I lost power somehow – we don’t know the exact cause.
“We weren’t able to capitalise on our reasonable level of competitiveness. With both Mercedes out, we had a good opportunity to score some points today, but we didn’t manage it, so we need to keep improving.”
JENSON BUTTON, MP4-31-03
|Fastest Lap:||1m30.260s on lap 39 (+3.312s, 18th)|
|Pitstops:||Two: lap 10 (2.63s) and 37 (3.13s) [Opt/Pri/Pri]|
“It’s a shame that Fernando retired, because we were having a good battle out there.”
“I had a great start – it must’ve been the best getaway out there!
“But it wasn’t a very easy race for me. There was no grip at all out there – and, whatever we did, we struggled. But, equally, the leaders weren’t very quick at the end, which made it really difficult for me to manage the situation because Dany [Kvyat] was right behind Seb [Vettel] and Ricci Bobby [Daniel Ricciardo], and he was on fresh rubber. Fortunately, I was just quick enough to stay ahead of those cars, and he couldn’t jump me.
“We knew it was going to be difficult to score points here, so this result wasn’t too bad.”
ERIC BOULLIER - Racing director, McLaren-Honda
“Such was the drama of today’s Spanish Grand Prix that few spectators or TV viewers will probably have paid much attention to Jenson’s calm and well-judged run to ninth place – another points-scoring result following immediately after our double-points-scoring success in Sochi two weeks ago.
“Disappointingly for the local fans, Fernando was unable to score points today, owing to a software command issue that stopped the ICE. Until that moment he’d been driving hard and well, and, but for the problem that ended his race, may well have also finished inside the top 10.
“However, as I’ve said before, mere points aren’t what we at McLaren-Honda are all about – podiums, wins and championships are what float our boat, and undoubtedly they’ll come. I’ll make no predictions about the next race, the unique challenge that is the Monaco Grand Prix, but you may rest assured that we’ll be gunning for a decent result on the notoriously unforgiving streets of the famous Principality.
“Last but not least, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate young Max [Verstappen], who today became the youngest Grand Prix winner in Formula 1 history, a record held for the past eight years by Sebastian, for the five years before that by Fernando, and for no fewer than 44 years before that by the founder of our company, the great Bruce McLaren.”
YUSUKE HASEGAWA - Honda R&D head of F1 project & executive chief engineer
“It was a bittersweet end to an eventful Spanish Grand Prix. Fernando’s retirement was caused by a software command issue that stopped the ICE. We think that the power unit as a whole is not damaged from this incident, but we will continue to investigate the effects of this stop. Obviously we will work with the team to see how this kind of situation can be avoided in the races going forward.
“Jenson started brilliantly, but, on the whole, it was a long and difficult race for him, trying to save tyres while fending off the competition and maintaining position. Therefore, it was a pleasure to see him finish in the points after a difficult weekend.”