The McLaren Mercedes team left Hockenheim with six world championship points after Jenson Button finished eighth and Kevin Magnussen ninth in Germany. After a promising qualifying session for Magnussen, his race unravelled at the first corner after a collision with the Williams of Felipe Massa, while Button struggled with his tyres after an aggressive strategy did not work out for the Briton.
Button rued the strategy call to bring him in early for the second stop that caused him to struggle towards the end of the race and forced him in for a third unscheduled stop as the life in the tyres disappeared completely. He was also disappointed about the clash with Lewis Hamilton, and although he escaped undamaged compared to his Mercedes rival, he was surprised the collision happened at all.
“I got a good start – I was running as high as sixth in the early stages – so things were looking okay,” said Button. “But I think we got the strategy wrong when we made our second stop. 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, which was a shame, but we’ll learn some useful lessons from it. We expected more from today.
“When I felt the hit from Lewis [Hamilton, on lap 30], I was a bit surprised. A lot of drivers take a wider entry line into Turn Six in order to get a better exit – perhaps Lewis expected me to let him past, but why would I let anybody through? We were racing.”
Team-mate Magnussen’s race was compromised by his first corner collision with Felipe Massa, but he fought back to take two points for ninth position at the flag. He felt he could not do much more to avoid the collision, but was happy with how the car ran all day, and was particularly happy with how the rear tyres kept going, something that has been an Achilles heal this season so far.
“A real pity: I think I could’ve had a decent race if I hadn’t had the accident at Turn One,” said Magnussen. “I need to see a replay of the accident, but I feel that, if I’d had somewhere to go, then there wouldn’t have been contact with Felipe. I did my best to try and avoid the accident, but there wasn’t much else I could do.
“I spun after that, and had to box to change tyres and the nose box. Then I spent the first half of the race coming through from the back of the field. Really, it wasn’t the best thing that could happen. Still, there are some positives from today – the car behaved extremely well; the rear tyres held on – which is something new for this car, it’s usually a bigger problem to keep the rears alive, but today it was okay.
“I’m happy to come away with some points, but I’m disappointed because we should have scored more. I hope we can be on the pace and get a decent result in Hungary next week.”
Racing Director Eric Boullier felt the team should have taken a better haul of points away from Germany. He felt Magnussen was blameless for the clash with Massa, but praised the Dane for the strong race afterwards. He was also disappointed that the aggressive strategy employed by Button didn’t pay off, and what could have been a top six finish ended up being an eight and ninth for the two drivers.
“Obviously, we’re extremely disappointed with this result,” said Boullier. “This should have been a day when we scored a useful clutch of world championship points; instead, we go home having lost ground to all our key rivals, which is extremely frustrating.
“Kevin’s turn one incident at the start was very unfortunate; he’d made a great getaway, and was pushing to stay close to Valtteri Bottas. Massa was on the outside and probably didn’t see Kevin, who was on the inside line, and had nowhere to go. Kevin was quite blameless in the accident, so it’s even more annoying that it destroyed his chances of finishing in the top four.
“However, I think Kevin deserves commending for the level-headed drive he posted thereafter; with the promise of a good result lost, and having been relegated to the very back, it would have been very easy to lose focus, but Kevin drove with great maturity. Two points is scant reward, but he worked hard for them today.
“Jenson drove well, too; he showed tremendous fighting spirit even when the odds were somewhat stacked against him. His was a very aggressive strategy, which, as the race wore on, we began to appreciate wasn’t going to succeed. Despite some great defending, Jenson was ultimately powerless to stop other drivers from leapfrogging him as his tyres faded away.
“We’ve worked hard to get ourselves into a situation where we can score good points regularly, so today was disappointing. Still, the Hungarian Grand Prix is but one week away, and we’ll be doing our best to score some good points before the onset of the summer break.”