Jenson Button has defended the McLaren mechanics in the light of his disastrous pit stop at Silverstone.
Button was battling with Mark Webber for third place and was hoping to come out of the pits ahead of the Aussie, who had just stopped. He was waved out without the front right wheelnut fitted, leading to instant retirement – and later a token $5000 fine for an unsafe release.
“We have a lot of practice in overtaking, and sometimes we make a mistake on that,” said Jenson. “I’ve tried doing a pit stop myself, and I know how difficult it is. When you’re in the heat of battle and you’re fighting another car, trying to get out of the pits as quick possible, sometimes this happens. We’ve just got make sure that we limit the mistakes, because it was one mistake after another.
“The wheel came off basically, we didn’t put a nut on the front wheel. The first nut flew off into the garage, and I think when he reached round to find another nut, or to get the second gun, I think the guy on the front jack thought that was a sign to go, and he dropped the car.
“And then the lollipop man goes off the jack man, and he lifted the lollipop, and then we went. It’s a mistake obviously. But this sort of thing happens when you’re fighting, and especially fighting for position. It was very close with Mark and myself. It could have been a great stop, but it went the other way, and my wheel fell off. Not great.”
Button says he could have come out in front of Webber, in which case he could have been in a position to chase down second placed Sebastian Vettel before the flag.
“We waited for him to pit, and then we pitted on the next lap, and I think I equalled my best time on that lap. The pace was good. I came in the pits, I had a good entry, I think I got the fastest last sector of the race coming into the pits.
“I don’t know where I would have come out, but the team think I would have come out alongside Webber, if not in front. Our aim was to pit on a different lap to him because the pace of my car was better than the three cars in front.
“When you’re in the heat of battle like we were with Mark, these things can happen. It’s either a really quick stop, or something bad happens. Something bad happened this time and it was disappointing, but we’ll learn from this, and hopefully it won’t happen again.”