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GP Week : Issue 185
It could have been an Alonso-esque performance for Jenson Button and sergio Perez at silverstone but for a near-perfect strategy that disintegrated at the final hurdle. Heading into the British Grand Prix weekend McLaren were once again playing catch up despite bringing along some significant updates. Although he qualified just outside the top ten, Button was confident progress had been made – albeit with the same front-end tyre graining issues that have plagued the team all year. For the first few laps of Sunday’s race, Button was unable to get sufficient heat into his tyres and allowed teammate Perez past in the hope that at least one of the McLarens could make hay during the first phase of the grand prix. But the move left Button exposed to a resurgent Mark Webber, and the Australian made short work of both McLarens. “The first stint we went for the primes because nobody else in front was on them,” explained Button after the race. “But that was actually the one that grained so we had big problems in the first stint.” From then on, both Woking drivers ran in ninth and tenth, which became a net sixth and seventh when the opposition pitted during the second Safety Car period, brought out to retrieve Sebastian Vettel’s stricken RB9. But the elongated Safety Car period meant the ageing tyres on both McLarens had become far less competitive, and those with fresher rubber were able to maximise their strategy. As a result, Button lost positions to Paul di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg and the Williams pairing to finish a lowly 13th. Perez would fare even worse with a rear tyre failure forcing him into the pits with extensive side pod damage. “When the safety car came out at the end, I had quite old tyres and was just a sitting duck,” Button seethed. “I couldn't get any tyre temperature. That's one of our issues anyway, and when you've got no tread you definitely can't get tyre temperature. I was just waiting for people to pass me. It was tough.” Curiously, both McLarens found the softer compounds a more manageable proposition than the harder Pirellis, but the tyres would eventually prove to be their undoing. As the Woking squad looks to direct their attention to their 2014 car, reverting to their successful 2012 design in the interim might not be such a bad idea. More misery at McLaren 33 GPWEEK.com // 33 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> GREAT BRITAIN