Jenson Button was left to wonder what might have been today in China after a problem in his third and final pit stop prevented him from hunting down Nico Rosberg and challenge for victory in Shanghai.
In the end, Button had to settle for second place, but now sits just two points behind championship leader (and team-mate) Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ standings. Furthermore, McLaren now have a 24-point lead in the Constructors’ Championship after today’s result.
“Congratulations to Nico today – he drove a faultless race,” said Button. “But 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.
“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].
“It's disappointing not to have been able to challenge for the win, but it was a fun race with tons of overtaking and lots of battling. More important, it's been a great day for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes because we're now leading both world championships.
“It's very important to be consistent, and it's nice to be back on the podium, but there are just a couple of little things we need to improve upon to make life even better for ourselves.”
Hamilton was hampered today by having to start from seventh place following an early gear box change on Friday. However, he enjoyed himself this afternoon and after three third-places from three races, is leading the charge for the title.
“I had a great race!” exclaimed the 2008 champion. “And, although neither Jenson nor I was sadly able to win, I'm really happy that Nico took his first win today, but I'm also really pleased for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team: both Jenson and I were able to get back on the podium and score some more good points.
“It was a tough race, though: I'd love to have been able to challenge Nico, and I think maybe I'd have been able to if I'd started on the front row, but we still managed to move forwards from the start I had a lot of fun overtaking people too. I reckon I got everything out of the car that I possibly could.
“It's also a major positive to know that we've got a very consistent car. We just have to make sure we keep moving forwards, that's all. Mercedes AMG, Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus and Sauber are all up there – that's a serious championship and it's going to make for great racing for the fans to watch.
“It's been a while since I was at the top of the drivers' world championship – but we've got to remain focused. I think if I just continue to work as I am then the wins will surely come, and I'll keep pushing for some better results in the future.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh praised both of his drivers for their contribution to a fantastic motor race today, and congratulated Rosberg on his first win.
“Nico drove a truly excellent race today, so first of all I want to say 'bravo' to him for taking his maiden grand prix victory,” said Whitmarsh.
“Well done, too, to Mercedes AMG, who were able to manage their car's tyre wear this afternoon better than we'd perhaps anticipated.
“As for Jenson and Lewis, well, they both drove brilliantly this afternoon too, coping with a three-stop strategy that demanded that they attack, and overtake, again and again and again throughout the race.
“That's never easy, and inevitably they both lost a bit of time on track in their efforts to make their passing manoeuvres stick, but they both kept at it and I'm sure the television spectacle was fantastic as a result.
“It was a tough race, but our strategy resulted in both our drivers getting onto the podium. Accordingly, we extended our lead in the constructors' world championship, whilst Lewis and Jenson now lie first and second in the drivers' championship.
“Would Jenson have been able to beat Nico if his final pitstop had gone more smoothly? Well, obviously, he'd have lost less time in the pitlane, and undoubtedly he'd have re-emerged onto the track with a clearer road in front of him; but, in all fairness, today was Nico's day, and we may not have been able to beat him even if Jenson's final pitstop had been an impeccably slick one.
“So, yes, at his 111th attempt, Nico fully deserved to win today.
“We've had three Grands Prix so far this year, and they've been won by three different drivers from three different teams. The performance differential between the fastest cars is minimal. It looks like we've got a great season ahead of us, doesn't it? Bring it on!”