Despite being involved in a number of spirited scraps – Jenson Button enjoyed a consummately measured ding-dong with Fernando Alonso, while Kevin Magnussen’s battle with Sebastian Vettel was also firm but fair – both our drivers encountered varying degrees of tyre degradation in the closing stages of this afternoon’s race.
Jenson was the worse affected of the two, dropping from eighth to 12th in just a handful of laps at the end. However, his determined fight to stay abreast of the chasing cars meant that Kevin, who had been running just ahead of him, was able to establish a useful cushion over the chasing pack. It was enough to limit most of the damage; however, he lost out on seventh place to a hard-charging Sebastian on the penultimate lap.
The four points scored this afternoon further consolidate McLaren’s fifth position in the constructors’ championship, moving the team 24 points clear of sixth-placed Force India.
Fastest lap 1m44.287s on lap 29 (+2.908s, 14th)
Pitstops Two: laps 1 (5.06s) and 27 (3.09s) [Opt-Pri-Pri]
“Eighth position isn’t a fantastic result, but I honestly don’t think we could have got much more out of the car this afternoon.
“It’s a shame that Jenson lost out on a points finish at the end – I guess he must have run out of tyres – but I was fortunate enough to be slightly farther up the road, which enabled me to keep ahead of the cars chasing me down. Fortunately, therefore, I didn’t lose out too much.
“I can’t be too unhappy with today’s result, but it’s not really been a weekend for the team to remember. Still, we now head straight to Brazil for another grand prix in just a few days’ time – I’m really looking to driving at Interlagos, which looks like a fantastic racetrack, and I very much hope we can have a better weekend there.”
Fastest lap 1m44.440s on lap 33 (+2.876s, 13th)
Pitstops Two: laps 1 (3.33s) and 28 (2.26s) [Opt-Pri-Pri]
“I just went backwards today. The only fun bit of the afternoon was my fight with Fernando. But, apart from that, it was pretty dull out there.
“It’s unusual for our car to suffer tyre degradation as damaging as we did today, and I experienced particularly significant issues with the rears. Their surface temperatures were getting really hot, yet their core temperatures were dropping. That meant we were slipping and sliding around, and as a result I was really struggling compared with the drivers around me.
“Hopefully, Brazil will suit us a little bit better.”
Racing director, McLaren Mercedes
“We’re very disappointed to be leaving Austin having scored only four constructors’ championship points, courtesy of Kevin’s eighth-place finish.
“For much of the race, Kevin and Jenson ran in line astern, both drivers racing extremely well in decidedly difficult circumstances, coping manfully with less than optimal grip levels.
“Towards the end of the race, Kevin was able to cling on to eighth place, having managed his tyre wear extremely well. Jenson was by that time struggling with more significant tyre-degradation issues, especially to his rears, and was consequently unable to prevent being overtaken in the final laps by a series of cars running on newer rubber. As a result he ended up 12th, which was understandably disappointing for him.
“As of this afternoon, we’re in fifth place in the constructors’ championship, 24 points ahead of Force India and 49 points behind Ferrari. From here we fly to Sao Paulo, Brazil, where we’re looking forward to the challenge of racing on one of the Formula 1 world’s great circuits: Interlagos.
“There, and in Abu Dhabi two weeks thereafter, we’ll be aiming to consolidate our constructors’ championship advantage over Force India, and we haven’t given up on pipping Ferrari for fourth place.
“By no means will it be easy, but you can bet your bottom dollar that we’ll be giving it our very best shot.”