McLaren demotes Force India, but loses podium shot

© F1 Pulse, 26 August 2013
© AP Photo/Yves Logghe

McLaren had something to celebrate at the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday after the results boosted the British team to fifth in the constructors’ championship but rued the chance to feature on the podium for the first time this season.

Jenson Button finished the race in sixth place but reckoned he could have been fighting Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton for third place had the team got its strategy right.

"Our aim was to fight for podium. We didn't quite do that but we were fighting at the front and finished just 13 seconds off third," the 2009 world champion was quoted saying by the BBC.

With ten laps remaining, Button was in third place but McLaren called him for a fresh set of tyres relegating him further down.

"We pitted too early on the first stint," he explained. "We went to a two-stop and then tried to go back to a one but there was no way were we going to do 12 more laps on that set of tyres.

"So we pitted which was best thing to do. It's better to be chasing rather than being overtaken," he added.

Teammate Sergio Perez, hampered by a drive-through penalty for his scuffle with Lotus’ Romain Grosjean, finished 11th but Button’s points-haul was enough for McLaren to pass Force India in the standings.

The two teams are now separated by four points with eight races remaining.

Adrian Sutil scored two points with his ninth place but Paul di Resta, who had started fifth, was forced to retire after a tussle with Williams’ Pastor Maldonado, with the Scot “simply in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

“After the second pit stop I was racing closely with Adrian and there was a train of four cars battling as we went into the final chicane,” di Resta explained. “Pastor went in deep and missed the apex so I tried to get the cut-back and was going around the outside of him.

“He then decided to try and enter the pit lane, which was impossible given his track position. As a result he hit me, which took the rear corner off my car,” he said.

Maldonado, who got a drive-through penalty for the incident, claimed that he “didn’t see di Resta on the outside” as he turned toward the pit lane.

“It was a difficult situation because I was fighting hard with the Sauber (of Esteban Gutierrez),” the Venezuelan said. "I tried to brake to avoid the accident but it was too late.”

 

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