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GP Week : Issue 149
Where many would have let their disappointment colour their performance, Button refused to let the lost chance of victory affect the rest of his race. Those 9.7 seconds sitting immobile in the box during his final stop might have cost the Briton his chance of challenging for the win in Shanghai, but when he returned to the track in P5 on lap 40, Button was more motivated than ever. By lap 41, the McLaren driver had been bumped up to P4 by Felipe Massa’s pit stop. He then benefitted from Kimi Raikkonen’s run onto the marbles, a move that cost the Lotus driver ten places in a single lap. Button was on the podium, and chasing down the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel. It took until lap 51 before the McLaren was able to pass the Red Bull, but slip past Button did, securing the second step on the podium in the process. Despite the disappointment of the botched pit stop, and its effect on Button’s chances for the win, the McLaren driver’s post-race demeanour was as relaxed as we’re accustomed to seeing from the Frome Flyer. “Who knows what we could have achieved if we’d had a clear run at him in the final stint? Our pace was very good and the aim was to come out ahead of that following pack of cars – which we would have done if we hadn’t lost time in the pitstop – and chase him down and put him under pressure,” Button said. “The delay in the final stop was just one of those things though – all the other stops had been very strong this weekend, but that one in particular wasn’t. “The delay pushed me back into the traffic, which was a little bit of a shock, but the pace and consistency are there in the car and I was able to get back into second position, after a good battle and a satisfying pass on Sebastian [Vettel].” While Nico Rosberg broke his victory duck in China, delivering the rebooted Mercedes Grand Prix team their first post-1955 win in the process, Michael Schumacher was the only casualty of the afternoon’s track action. It could have been a Mercedes 1-2 in Shanghai on Sunday, but a race determined by tyres and pitlane errors saw Schumacher retire from the Chinese Grand Prix thanks to a wheel nut error in the German driver’s only stop. The Mercedes pair lined up on the front row for Sunday’s race, and both drivers got decent starts off the line, holding P1 and P2 until Schumacher headed for what he thought would be his first pit stop of the race on lap 12. But the seven-time world champion’s first stop was to be his last, because the right front wheel had not been properly attached, which Schumacher discovered shortly after leaving the pits. “My right front tyre got loose following my first pit stop,” Schumacher explained. “As I did not want to cause any bigger damage to the car, I stopped on the grass. I felt there was something wrong immediately and especially in Turn 3, when I put pressure on the right side of the car.” The German driver’s post-race comments show a side to the Mercedes driver that we’ve only seen since his comeback – the famous win-at-all-costs attitude has been tempered with a healthy dose of empathy. “The front wheel got loose,” Schumacher said when analysing his race. “We need to check why and exactly what happened. I feel a bit sad for one of our boys, but I will hug him later on and calm him down.” Following the race, the FIA issued Mercedes with a fine for their unsafe release. BUTTON COMES UNDONE IN THE PITS TOO, BUT FIGHTS ON OH NUTS – SCHUMACHER RETIRES FROM P2 AFTER WHEEL NUT ERROR 28 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> CHINA