Today’s was a typically frantic and exciting Brazilian Grand Prix.
The race was dominated by tyre wear, the front-runners opting to run a three-stop strategy to best manage degradation. Jenson Button managed the situation superbly, was always able to push when required, and showed excellent pace throughout. He quickly settled into fifth place behind the two Mercedes and Williams cars, then established himself in fourth when Valtteri Bottas was delayed at his second stop. He maintained that position to the flag.
Kevin Magnussen struggled with high tyre degradation all afternoon. He initially looked set to make good progress, capably jumping Sebastian Vettel on the opening lap to run sixth just behind Jenson. Thereafter, however, his tyre problems compromised his ability to prevent himself from sliding back down the order. He eventually finished ninth.
Fastest lap 1m13.999s on lap 68 (+0.444s, 4th)
Pitstops Three: laps 6 (2.34s), 27 (2.20s) and 50 (2.94s) [Opt-Pri-Pri-Pri]
“Judging the race was so tricky today. I pushed really hard on my first stint on the Prime [tyres] so as to maintain the gap to Valtteri [Bottas]. That meant I destroyed my rear tyres – but I reasoned that, if I could keep using DRS, I could establish a gap to the guys behind me. It was worth it, and it worked, but it meant I had to back off during the following stint to look after my tyres.
“It all went pretty smoothly until my final pit-stop – there was a bit of miscommunication about stopping, which meant I ended up doing an extra lap. That could have cost us a chance of the podium. It’s a shame we couldn’t hang on to Felipe [Massa], but it was still a fantastic race.
“I really enjoyed it. One of the best aspects of it was my great fight with Kimi [Raikkonen] – you always push to the limit with him, but you never go over it – so I enjoyed that very much.”
Fastest lap 1m14.544s on lap 11 (+0.989s, 11th)
Pitstops Three: laps 7 (2.41s), 26 (3.47s) and 47 (3.23s) [Opt-Pri-Pri-Pri]
“That wasn’t a great race for me, which is disappointing.
“I had a lot of tyre degradation – I tried my best to take care of my tyres but it just didn’t seem possible today.
“I tried to keep people from getting past me, but guys like Fernando [Alonso] and Nico [Hulkenberg] just had more pace than I did, so it wasn’t possible. We need to sit down and have a look at why it didn’t go right for me today – I’m sure we can find the answer.
“On the positive side, it’s really good that Jenson scored the points he did today. Fourth is very impressive. I’m really happy for him and for the team today.”
Racing director, McLaren Mercedes
“Today’s race was all about tyres.
“On an extremely hot track surface, often in the mid-to-high-fifties Celsius, Jenson drove a superb race, managing tyre wear with all the expertise he’s become famous for.
“The result was an excellent fourth place – which, although it isn’t what McLaren is all about, was a very welcome reward for all our engineers’ hard work, transforming our car’s performance from a low ebb on Friday to the very respectable race pace it exhibited today.
“Kevin made a good start, making up a place on lap one, and ending it in sixth place, running in fifth-placed Jenson’s wheel-tracks. Thereafter, though, he began to struggle with high levels of tyre degradation which adversely affected his ability to match Jenson’s lap-times. He ended up ninth. Set-up may have had something to with it; we don’t yet know; but we’ll investigate.”