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GP Week : Issue 194
An opportunity for McLaren to secure a podium finish slipped past yet again with both Jenson Button and sergio Perez losing out through first lap incidents and fumbled strategy in Abu Dhabi. Achieving a decent balance during practice didn’t make the difference in qualifying trim and Button complained of a poor front end which resulted in a rather dismal 13th in qualifying. Perez faired a little better, with ninth on Pirelli’s soft compound, but it was the Briton who was hoping to make his medium rubber go a little deeper into the first stint. Both drivers were later promoted one slot up the grid by Kimi Raikkonen’s exclusion from qualifying. Like Raikkonen, who was also starting on the medium compound, Button’s strategy fell to pieces after a first corner altercation with Paul di Resta. As the field bunched up at Turn One, Button was caught out by di Resta who was forced to brake early and cover his ground. With nowhere to go, the McLaren made contact with the Force India and Button was forced to pit with front wing damage, effectively ruining his strategy before the race had really got started. Button admitted fault for the first-corner incident, saying it was where his weekend effectively ended. “It was my fault, it broke the front wing and made the rest of the race difficult,” he said. "I suppose you make your own luck, and starting down in 12th you've got to expect a little argy-bargy,” he said. “I just locked both fronts into Turn One; a car on the right came across and I just couldn't slow the car down and drove into the back of Paul. In a way, to finish 12th and that close to 10th isn't so bad considering how far we were behind. It was a good race in terms of performance but I didn't make the most of it.” Perez’ evening was equally frustrating after the Mexican racer lost time thanks to an unsafe release from Nico Hulkenberg before losing further time scrapping with both Pastor Maldonado and a one-stopping Adrian Sutil. The time Perez lost was crucial given he was closing on Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton during the closing laps. Perez’ ninth-place finish could have been seventh had Hamilton not delayed Perez, allowing Massa to steal the march on both men. McLaren have now lost the handy buffer they had amassed over Force India since Montreal, and now need to retain their 18-point advantage over the Silverstone team during the final two races to keep fifth in the constructors’ standings. McLaren misses the boat again 35 GPWEEK.com // 35 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> ABU DHABI