Jenson Button may have retained a slender World Championship lead after finishing fifth in Spain, but after the race his frustration was all too clear. As Lewis Hamilton proved, the McLaren was capable of taking the fight to Red Bull in Barcelona, but Jenson was left stuck behind Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes.
Button’s race was spoiled after his clutch dragged at the stop, and the mechanics struggled to change the rear wheels, as they were moving. That allowed Schumacher to get past, and JB spent the rest of the race staring at a Petronas logo.
“We had a problem with the clutch dragging, so the pit stop took a lot longer, and that was it really,” said Button. “I didn’t really know where he [Michael] was on the outside of me into Turn One. He turned in, and if I didn’t back out of it, we would have crashed. So he didn’t really give a lot of room there. There you go, you’d think with his experience he would know.
“As we know it’s almost impossible to overtake round here, and he was moving about quite a bit, making sure I couldn’t get past. It was really frustrating. The pace of the car looked really good, but it doesn’t make any difference – you can’t overtake. When I was behind him I was trying so hard, everything to get past. I damaged my tyres quite badly at the front, and flat spotted at the rear, just with traction.
“Michael’s not silly, he knows where to put the car. On a circuit where it’s almost impossible to overtake, you’re not going to get past Michael. He was putting right on the inside, and I couldn’t get down on the outside, because he’d push me wide every time I did.”
Button’s prospects weren’t help by the fact that he lost his dashboard information almost from the start of the race.
“They’re asking me to do things on the steering wheel, and I can’t see if I’m doing the right thing or not. Plus trying to see the rev lights as well… You can’t see them, so you have to go by instinct. Most of the time I was pretty close, but I was hitting the rev limiter a lot, because when you’re behind someone you’re getting a tow and obviously you’re shifting in different places.
“It was a little bit tricky, and it kept flashing at me at random moments around the lap. Fifth place is OK, but it was a really frustrating race.”
Button said retaining his championship lead was only a small consolation: “Yeah, but it’s not the result we wanted, and it’s not the result we really deserved, because we were pretty quick.”