Formula 1

McLaren retake fifth after strong Sochi showing

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The McLaren Mercedes team had one of their best weekends of the season at Sochi, with Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen finishing fourth and fifth, securing twenty-two points as they took control of the battle with Force India for fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship.

For Button, it was a very strong and competitive weekend, finishing only thirteen seconds away from the podium, and the Briton felt it was a very straightforward race. He knows the team have a little way to go to reach the top step of the podium once more, but felt he got the most out of his McLaren on Sunday.

“Well, that wasn’t a bad day at all – I reckon we got the maximum out of the car,” reflected Button. “I had a little scare at Turn Three on lap one, when Fernando [Alonso] and I got very close to each other, but apart from that it was a pretty straightforward race.

“It was odd that we were able to run so many laps on a single set of tyres today. The Primes [tyres] felt like they could have gone on forever – it was a bit like going back to ‘old school’ racing in that respect. The track surface is in Austin [Texas] is very similar to the track surface here, as it happens, so I look forward to seeing how we fare out there in terms of tyre wear.

“It’s been a tough year for us but over the past few Grand Prix it’s been clear that we’ve been improving. Today’s result, fourth and fifth, is the best we’ve had for a little while, and the 22 World Championship points that Kevin and I scored are very welcome from a Constructors’ World Championship point of view.

“Having said that, unless you’re standing on top of the podium, you always want more; that’s the Formula 1 mindset. But believe me: we got the maximum out of our car today, and our race pace was good, but better results still will come soon enough.”

Team-mate Magnussen followed Button home in fifth, but admitted his early race charge meant he was forced to conserve fuel later in the race, and was surprised not to be challenged as other drivers suffered the same problems. He was also happy to be quick at Sochi, and hopes the team can continue this positive momentum into the final three races of the season.

“I decided to go flat-out from the start, in an effort to make up as many positions as possible from my P11 grid slot, and it worked; I had a great lap one, and then moved up to P5 very quickly,” said Magnussen. “After that, though, it cost me dear because I had to do a lot of fuel-saving, especially in the second half of the race.

“Even so, it was a pretty uneventful afternoon for me. It was almost like a chilled-out Sunday drive, in fact, because I was easing off the power 200 metres before the corners in an effort to save fuel. I was really surprised that no one was able to catch me, in fact; I guess the guys behind me must have been experiencing the same problem.

“Overall, therefore, I was pleased to finish fifth – and for Jenson to qualify and finish fourth was a great result in two ways: it meant that together we scored a lot of very valuable Constructors’ World Championship points and it also showed that our car is steadily improving.

“So it’s been a good weekend. We’ve been a bit quicker than we’d expected to be, which was great. Now we need to push really hard so as to carry that improved form forward for the rest of the season.”

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