McLaren Mercedes thought they had secured a sixth and seventh place finish at the Belgian Grand Prix, but post-race, Kevin Magnussen was penalised and saw his sixth place become twelfth. Team-mate Jenson Button inherited that sixth place, overtaking the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso on the penultimate lap, but what was a fourteen point score turned to only eight.
Button started tenth and originally finished seventh, but was promoted to sixth after his team-mates penalty. He confessed to playing the waiting game for most of the day, conserving his tyres so to make gains later on in the stints, and admitted he enjoyed himself whilst racing Magnussen, Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull Racing and Alonso in the closing stages.
“We played the long game today – most people were making their pit-stops early – and I felt I kept the tyres in good condition,” said Button. “I also had a lot of fun out there, especially racing Kevin [Magnussen], Sebastian [Vettel] and Fernando [Alonso] at the end.
“In the final laps Kevin and I didn’t touch, although I had to back off a bit at Turn Eight, when Fernando ran off as he and Kevin were dicing. I lost a place to Fernando there, which was a bit of a shame, and in turn a place to Sebastian after that, but as I say I really enjoyed it out there. It’s such a fantastic circuit; driving here always feels so good.”
Team-mate Magnussen originally finished sixth, just ahead of Button, but was given a post-race 20-second penalty for forcing Alonso off the road while defending his position down the Kemmel Straight. Despite the penalty, the Danish driver enjoyed his afternoon, and admitted to trying his best to maintain position despite being on older tyres than his challengers.
“Despite being penalised after the race, I have to say I enjoyed the weekend,” declared Magnussen. “I had great fun out there this afternoon – I was involved in exciting racing on an awesome circuit.
“It was a tough challenge, because everyone around me had slightly fresher tyres than I did, and they’re all great drivers: they’re not the easiest guys to keep behind. So I just tried my best to defend my position as well as I could.
“It was good that Jenson got past Fernando at the end, to score some useful points for the team.”
Racing Director Eric Boullier was pleased to see both McLaren drivers battling hard for position, including against each other. He praised both Button and Magnussen for their performance, and hope that they can get another positive result for the team in Italy in two weeks time.
“Throughout, Jenson and Kevin were in the thick of it, and it was great to see them racing the Red Bulls and the Ferraris fast and hard,” said Boullier. “They both drove extremely well, exhibiting redoubtable derring-do, and, although they raced wheel to wheel with each other, they never touched.
“From here we go to Monza, another classic low-downforce circuit, where we’ll be hoping to capitalise on our steady ongoing performance development and score a useful number of World Championship points.”