Second place for Jenson Button and seventh for Lewis Hamilton in Delhi today means that McLaren now have enough points to ensure that Ferrari cannot better their points tally and thus secures the team second place in the constructors’ championship.
Button started fourth and was up to second within the first few corners of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix but, has the 2009 world champion admits, did not have the pace to catch race-winner Sebastian Vettel today.
“In terms of team effort, we did everything right today – our car just wasn't quite quick enough to actually win,” he said.
“I got a good start, made up places on the first lap and then settled down to keep Mark [Webber] behind me for five or six laps. Eventually, I think we 'broke' his rear tyres, which enabled me to establish a gap. Then I could set about Seb [Vettel] – but it was very difficult to close him down.
“At the final stop, it was a risk going to the harder tyre earlier than Seb, but we had to give it a go and it worked pretty well as I was able to close him down by a further three seconds. My car felt really good: before Seb could find his rhythm on the Prime, I was able to get the gap down to 2.8 seconds, but it wasn't quite enough.
“Still, this was a very good result for us – and I think we delivered the maximum possible. I loved the whole experience this weekend. And I think every driver will be excited about coming back here because it's such a phenomenal circuit; fast and flowing with a bit of everything. It gets a big tick from me.
“The Indian people have really welcomed us to their country; I've never seen so many people smiling before. And the crowd has been wonderful. I hope that Formula 1 grows in India in the future and that we get an even bigger crowd here next year.”
Hamilton had another coming together with Felipe Massa in today’s race – an incident that stewards blamed on the Ferrari driver.
“The contact with Felipe was just one of those things,” Hamilton said. “I really didn't feel like I was at fault – it was a racing incident.
“On the grid, just before the one minute's silence, he and I were standing next to each other and I put my arm around him and told him: 'Have a great race today.' I've still got great respect for him.
“During the race, it felt like there was a vibration in the car through the right-handers: it felt like the floor was scraping on the ground, in fact. I was pushing as hard as I could, but couldn't find the performance, so we'll have to look into that.
“It's been an eventful year, but there are more races ahead and I'll try to score as many world championship points as possible in both of them. Jenson did a great job today, so clearly we were quick enough. I just need to try to pick up on that for the next race.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh praised both of his drivers for their efforts today, and congratulated the organisers of the race for putting on such a good event.
“Jenson made a great start and then drove a brilliant first few corners, working his way from fourth on the grid to second by the end of the first lap,” he said.
“He followed that with a truly excellent race-long performance, managing tyre wear where necessary yet still managing to keep up impressive race pace throughout. He didn't ever have quite enough race pace to mount a concerted attack on Seb, but he got the maximum out of his car and beat everyone else fair and square.
“Lewis had a frustrating afternoon, but recovered well from his coming-together with Felipe to score a very useful half-dozen world championship points. We don't yet know whether contact with the Ferrari caused damage to Lewis's car – other than to the nosecone, obviously, which we changed in the pits – but, as I say, as a result of the 24 world championship points that he and Jenson notched up today, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has now secured second place in the 2011 Constructors' World Championship. It's always our aim to go one better than that – to win – and second isn't good enough – but we're pleased to have consolidated that position nonetheless.
“Last but far from least, I want to say that I thought the 2011 Indian Grand Prix was a fantastic success: a glittering spectacle and a marvellous addition to the international sporting calendar. Next, we go to Abu Dhabi, and then to Brazil, and we at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes will be doing our utmost to win both those grands prix.”