Jenson Button confirms that as far as he was concerned he was racing Lewis Hamilton when the pair traded places in Turkey, and a miscommunication led Lewis to not expect an attack from his team mate.
Hamilton had asked his engineer whether Button would try to pass, and was told he wouldn’t. The team has subsquently said that was an opinion, rather than any reflection of instructions given to either driver.
“It was definitely a miscommunication,” said Button when asked by this blog. “I was there to race, and Lewis was there to race. I was told to save fuel, I was given a lap time. That was a 1m31s, on lap 46. I passed him on lap 48 and I did a 1m30.85s, so almost a 31s – you can’t judge the lap time exactly. And the next one was a 31.9s. So it wasn’t that I went quicker to overtake him. Lewis had done a 1m33s, so he was 2s off the lap time we were given.
“We had a good battle. I completely believe that when I came up behind Lewis on the exit of Turn 8 he knew that I was closing on him and he understood that I was going to try and pass him. It’s not like I overtook him and he let me have the position. We had a lot of fun and we were wheel to wheel. We never touched. It was a fun battle to have with your team mate, who you have a lot of respect for.
“Afterwards we were told you still need to conserve fuel, I was told it was critical. So I conserved fuel. I was doing mid-31s most of the time from then on.”
Button said he had no chance to stop Lewis coming straight back past: “I got a bad exit onto the last corner, because I was on the outside through Turn 12, I picked up some shit on my tyres, I think. I turned into the last corner, I got oversteer – you can’t see it on the TV – and I lost traction on the exit. It screwed me a little bit for the straight.
“Obviously I would rather have finished first, but it was a fun battle, and if you can’t finish first, it’s the second best thing, fighting with your team mate and fighting for a win.”
He thinks it’s inevitably that they will be fighting each other again: “We’re all here to race and to fight, and sometimes it’s going to happen, if you’re racing wheel to wheel. If you’re both competitive drivers and you’re both quick, you’re going to find yourself next to each other on the grid quite often. You’re going to be racing each other, and you both want to beat each other, and sometimes you obviously go a little bit too far, and you touch, and things happen.”
Jenson thinks that the Vettel/Webber collision was a little unusual: “The accident with Sebastian and Mark was very strange. It wasn’t like they were fighting in a corner, collided because they got a bit too close or they were wheel banging.
“It looked to me as though Mark was just carrying on a straight line, and Sebastian thought he was going to move to the right to take his line for the corner, but Mark didn’t, he stayed still. That’s what it looked like. Sebastian went right and he didn’t expect that Mark was still going to be there.”
Meanwhile Jenson believes that Montreal will suit McLaren and its F-Duct, although he thinks Red Bull won’t be too badly off.
“Because there aren’t any high speed corners, I don’t think they will have that advantage. But I don’t think that you can forget that they have very good mechanical grip also. Also the way that their car works, there are a few things on their car that are different to most. I think those things will help them around here, with so many traction areas. They are still going to be quick. You can’t forget about Red Bull, they’re going to be for sure up the front.
“But this is a circuit that should work for us quite well. There’s long straights, and we’re very efficient. I think braking for us is a reasonably strong point, and mechanically we’re quite strong. I don’t think we’re going to be alone up front, the Red Bulls are going to be very quick, and I even think that Mercedes will be competitive. And you never know about Ferrari, they’ve been very up and down the last couple of races, but this is such a different circuit to Turkey, they could be competitive here also.”