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McLaren drivers score points in difficult Korean Grand Prix

Jenson Button and Sergio Perez both managed to finish in the points, despite each losing time to unfortunate incidents during the race
Sunday, October 6, 2013

October 6th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Jenson Button and Sergio Perez finished 8th and 10th respectively in the Korean Grand Prix, but each was hampered by an unfortunate incident in the race. Button had minor contact on the opening lap that required a front wing change. Perez had a much more dramatic incident, when his right front tyre failed in spectacular fashion on the straight between turns 2 and 3.

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Button was the unfortunate victim of the drama that went on in turn 3 on the first lap. He explained:

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“Turn Three was always going to be something of a mess on the first lap. And, sure enough, there was an incident; a car got hit, went wide and hit me. That contact damaged my front wing endplate. It didn’t really cause me too much of a problem in terms of staying with the cars in front, but it really started to hurt the temperatures, so we had to pit for a new nosebox on lap four. That cost me a bit of time."

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Button would later benefit from the appearance of the safety car on lap 31. If not for the safety car, he would probably have had to make another pit stop late in the race, but as it turned out he was able to make his tyres last, despite running 33 laps on his final set of tyres. Button was running seventh in the closing stages of the race, close behind Fernando Alonso who was battling with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg, but Button was passed by Nico Rosberg close to the end when he fell back just enough from Alonso that he no longer had the use of DRS.

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It was disappointing for Button to lose out on seventh place, as he explained:

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“I was a bit gutted to lose seventh right at the end of the race. As soon as I lost the DRS to the bunch of cars in front, that was it for me: I couldn’t get any temperature back in the tyres. It was always going to be difficult with Nico [Rosberg] at the end: his tyres were almost 10 laps fresher than mine. I did 33 laps on my final set, whereas the previous set did 18!

Button may have benefitted from the safety car, but it was his team-mate who caused it and suffered most from it. Sergio Perez described his massive tyre failure that left debris all over the track:

“With regards to my tyre delamination, although that particular set was already quite old, I braked at the same point as normal and got a flat-spot from the lock-up. I’d done 21 laps with that set, when, all of a sudden, the front-right just exploded, destroying the front wing.

“It was lucky, because there weren’t any other cars around me. Still, from a team point of view, it’s very disappointing for a single incident like this to destroy the good progress we’d made all weekend."

Perez had to crawl back to the pits for a nose change and a new set of tyres, but despite all the time lost doing so, he was able to recover to a points-paying position by the end of the race. The battle that ultimately saw Perez take tenth position was quite entertaining, and inluded both Williams drivers, the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez and the Ferrari of Felipe Massa.

In that scrap, Massa and Perez made contact which the stewards noticed and considered worthy of investigation. But after reviewing the evidence, they concluded that no action need be taken. Perez described the incident:

“Regarding Felipe, we were racing very hard trying to get some points – on one occasion, I thought he was going to leave me more space, then he turned in, I tried to brake and we touched a little bit. On the second incident, I thought I had the corner. I’m pleased that the stewards felt there was no need for any further action – it was just racing."

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