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Button's 4th saves face for McLaren

2013-11-25 09:04


JENSON BUTTON: 'We did a really good job of getting the tyre pressures right.' Image: AFP

SAO PAULO, Brazil - McLaren, the second most-successful team in Formula 1, has rarely welcomed fourth place as much as it did at the season-ending 2013 Brazilian F1 GP on Sunday.

Jenson Button's result meant McLaren had failed to secure a podium finish over the course of a year for the first time since 1980 but had at least staved off the far greater ignominy of their worst season since their debut in 1966.

Until Interlagos, 2009 World champion Button and Mexican team mate Sergio Perez had been no higher than fifth - and McLaren had managed at least a fourth in every season since the team started out.


Button, who started 14th and still looked far from elated, told Britain's Sky television: "As a team we did a really good job of getting the tyre pressures right... so really happy with that. A well-planned race and we came home with the best result we could have hoped for."

Button also set a British record for the most race starts - it was his 247th, one more than David Coulthard.

Perez, who crashed into a wall in qualifying and took a five-place starting penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change, took his car from 19th on the grid to sixth in his final race with the team.

McLaren ended the season fifth overall, its worst position since 2004 when it took one win. In 1981 the team finished sixth, again with one win.

"To drive from 14th and 19th on the grid up to fourth and sixth was a fantastic way to finish the year," said the team's sporting director Sam Michael. "For the race crew and everyone at the factory, a really good way to finish the season."


Former McLaren principal Ron Dennis used to refer to second place as "first of the losers" and the British-based outfit knows it has little to celebrate in the greater scheme of things.

McLaren has won eight Constructors' titles, 12 Drivers' crowns and 182 GP's down the years and fourth places have rarely rated much of a mention in the past. The 2013 season has been very different, with the team fielding an uncompetitive car after ending 2012 with the fastest.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: "This morning, if you'd have said fourth and sixth, we'd have snatched your hand off but, as racers, inevitably when you are fourth you are one away from the podium and it's not what we are here to do.

"It's been a pretty tough year. We've had a big kick up the pants and I hope that's what we needed. We're working hard to make sure we don't need one again next year."


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