“My first few months with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes have been extraordinary,” said Jenson Button after recording what he described as his “best victory in Formula One”, taking the checkered flag in the Chinese Grand Prix. “I really feel a real part of the team now – so today's result gives us great excitement, encouragement and enthusiasm as we head to Barcelona.”
In what team principal Martin Whitmarsh described as a “very, very impressive” performance Button crucially made the right call not to change to intermediate tyres during an early race rain shower, before passing Nico Rosberg for the lead after the German slid wide when the rain reappeared on lap 19.
Meanwhile Button's teammate, Lewis Hamilton, had been one of those to opt to change tyres; “It was very tough at the start – it started to rain right away, and it was a difficult call to decide to pit for intermediate tyres,” explains Hamilton. “I made a very late call when I thought I'd heard a comment over the radio, and pulled into the pits when I was halfway round the final corner!”
However, the rain shower proved to brief for the intermediate tyres, Hamilton suffering graining almost immediately and having to come in to swap back to slick tyres.
From there Hamilton, aided by the a second intervention from the safety car was able to fight up through the field, a charge including fantastic battles past Sebastien Vettel and Michael Schumacher en route to giving McLaren their first 1-2 finish since Monza in 2007 and the first British 1-2 since Eddie Irvine beat David Coulthard around the A1-Ring in 1999.
Hamilton was almost able to challenge his teammate for the win as the pair struggled on their heavily worn intermediate tyres, Button skating wide at the Shanghai International Circuit's turn 14 hairpin.
“I think the whole team deserves this incredible one-two result,” claimed Lewis Hamilton, with Button echoing the sentiment saying “It's not luck that brought us out on top today. We made the right decisions – the guys on the pitwall and back in Woking made the calls brilliantly.”
“Credit should also be given to Mercedes-Benz,” added Whitmarsh. “For not only supplying the winning engine but also powering the first three cars home [Nico Rosberg's Mercedes finished third] – it was the first all-Mercedes-Benz podium in Formula 1 since Aintree 1955.”