Jenson Button had a frustrating afternoon in the Spanish Grand Prix, losing a place to Michael Schumacher at the first pit stop and failing to pass him for the remainder of the race.
Button scored ten points for fifth place and retained his lead in the world championship heading into this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, but his comments surprised senior figures in the Mercedes team and many onlookers.
Button criticised Schumacher for his passing move as Button exited the pits,
“”He turned in and if I didn’t back out of it we would have crashed,” he said. “So he didn’t really give me a lot of room there. There you go, you’d think with his experience he would know. It wasn’t really the right move.”
Having been two to three tenths of a second faster in the opening stint than the Mercedes driver, Button was then forced to follow him for the rest of the race. He lined up several passing moves on the seven times champion, but none of them came off. This has brought him in for quite a bit of criticism and unfavourable comparisons with other champions who “would have got past.”
What is clear from the lap times yesterday is that this was one of those days when Button was nowhere near as fast as his team mate in the same car. In the 16 lap opening stint he only matched Hamilton’s lap time once and the rest of the time he was between a tenth and half a second slower. In 15 laps he lost six seconds to him.
Once they switched to the hard tyre, Hamilton was at least a second and at times two seconds faster than Schumacher’s Mercedes, indicating that the McLaren was better on the hard tyre and therefore Button had a significant performance advantage over Schumacher too. But he couldn’t find a way through.
It demonstrates that even with such an advantage overtaking is extremely hard in modern F1, especially when it’s Michael Schumacher you are trying to pass.
“On a track like this you’re not going to overtake him, ” said Button. “He was putting it on the inside, and I couldn’t pass on the outside because he just pushed me wide every time. He didn’t make a mistake, so it was very frustrating.”