It looked like McLaren’s strongest showing for quite a while; but Jenson Button was disappointed with the pace of his McLaren despite scoring his best result of the season at the US Grand Prix, while his teammate Fernando Alonso was pleased with the speed of his car.
The Spaniard, of course, was armed with a new spec Honda engine, which had a straight line speed advantage over the old one.
Alonso described his race as “one of my best in several years” despite finishing outside the points as an engine problem dropped him down the order late on.
The Spaniard was running the latest specification of Honda engine was on course for a high finish before his issue, but Button was still not happy with his McLaren’s pace in dry conditions.
Speaking after the race, where he finished sixth, Button said: “We did a good job with strategy, but other than that, the pace of the car was not that exciting. Our pace is nowhere near what we expected. We need to go away and look at why.
“We just get eaten up as always in bits of the circuit that are a little bit straighter on the throttle.
“When it was [damp] drying it was great, I really enjoyed that, as always.
I could make a little bit of a difference – but at the end, when it was dry, it was very tough with graining.”
But Alonso, who was a lap down done before the safety car was called out for the first time due to a first lap clash with Felipe Massa, described his car’s pace as “really strong.”
He said: “We would have finished fifth and it would have been one of the best races of my career. I leave with the feeling of having done my best race in several years and hopefully I can repeat it in the three that we have left.
“We were one minute behind the penultimate car on lap two, then we were fifth ten laps from the end and the pace was really strong.
“It would have been a little miracle what nearly happened today, but we had an engine issue in the last ten laps. It feels better to fight with other cars and be competitive, but on the day we are this competitive, all these issues are not welcome.”
Despite the conflicting accounts from its drivers, McLaren did enjoy a strong race in Texas. The damp start and twisty first section of the Circuit of the Americas played to the aerodynamic strength of the car and allowed Button and Alonso to keep in touch with the rest of the grid despite the track’s long straights.
Alonso was also helped by the two safety car periods closing the pack up. He was fortunate that these disruptions allowed him to un-lap himself and join the back of the queue but deserved to score points before his engine issue.
The double world champion was clearly annoyed with the problem, telling the team over the team radio: “As soon as I am not in the points, I stop.” Unfortunately Daniel Ricciardo caught and passed him on the final lap and Alonso came home in P11.