|© AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis with inputs by F1 Pulse
When Jenson Button started the German Grand Prix on Sunday, he became the third most experienced driver in Formula One eclipsing Italian Riccardo Patrese in the all-time rankings.
Driving for McLaren, the Briton now has 257 starts in a career that began in 2000 with Williams. Now in his 15th season, he has raced for Benetton, Renault, BAR, Honda and Brawn, with whom he claimed his title in 2009.
Only Rubens Barrichello with 322, whom he partnered at Honda and Brawn, and Michael Schumacher with 306 have more F1 starts than Button.
Button’s landmark race was rewarded with another record. His second pit stop at Hockenheim established a new McLaren record of 2.15s stationary. That beats the team’s previous record of 2.20 seconds – also set with Button’s car – at last year’s Spanish GP.
RECORD PIT STOP RUINS RACE
But the stop did more damage to his strategy than it should have helped.
"I got a good start – I was running as high as sixth in the early stages – so things were looking okay. But I think we got the strategy wrong when we made our second stop,” Button revealed.
“I’m not sure why we stopped so early, but it made it extremely difficult for me to keep the set of tyres alive until the end of the race, which was the plan at that point.
“The strategy didn’t work out for us," said Button, who started 11th and went on to finish eighth.
McLaren too admitted that the tactic was “very aggressive”, highlighted by the fact that teammate Kevin Magnussen finished one position behind in ninth despite being last after the opening lap following the Dane’s collision with Williams’ Felipe Massa on the first corner.
"As the race wore on, we began to appreciate (Button’s strategy) wasn’t going to succeed,” team principal Eric Boullier said. "Despite some great defending, Jenson was ultimately powerless to stop other drivers from leapfrogging him as his tyres faded away.”