How Button went from 14th to fourth (British Grand Prix analysis)

Jenson Button, McLaren, Silverstone 2010

It was an exercise in damage limitation for Jenson Button in the British Grand Prix as he rose from 14th on the grid to salvage fourth place – enough for him to hold on to second in the championship.

He managed it by gaining more places than anyone else at the start, delaying his pit stop and profiting from Robert Kubica and Fernando Alonso’s misfortunes.

Examine the pit stop, lap chart and interactive race data from the British Grand Prix below.

Lap 1

Lap 1 position change

Lap 1 position change (click to enlarge)

There’s no mistaking Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa’s disastrous starts on the graph above, both due to punctures caused by contact with other drivers – in Massa’s case, his team mate.

They were two of the six people Jenson Button passed on the first lap. The others were Adrian Sutil and Nico H???lkenberg, who he passed away from the line, and both Saubers.

He passed Pedro de la Rosa as they accelerated out of Beckets, de la Rosa being distracted by Vettel re-joining the track, and then took Kobayahi on the outside of Vale.

Pit stops

Pit stops

Pit stops (click to enlarge)

The pit stops kicked off after Vitantonio Liuzzi passed Jarno Trulli on lap ten. Mercedes were first to react by bringing Michael Schumacher in to ‘cover’ Liuzzi, triggering pit stops from their rivals.

Some drivers delayed their first stops, notably Nico Rosberg and Button. Rosberg set the fastest lap of the race after Robert Kubica had pitted, releasing the Mercedes driver.

Rosberg’s got him ahead of Kubica and Button’s allowed him to pass Rubens Barrichello.

Race progress

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View interactive chart full screen

Tick/untick drivers? names to show their laps, click and drag to zoom

The little-seen battle at the back of the grid was a closely-fought affair between the Lotuses and Virgins. Jarno Trulli beat his team mate home by just 0.251s.

Although the race classification shows Glock was a lap behind them, he had the T127s within sight, but was put an extra lap down by Mark Webber on the final tour.

Lap chart

Lap chart

Lap chart (click to enlarge)

Fernando Alonso briefly passed Vitantonio Liuzzi for 11th and would have needed just one more pass to take a point.

But the pair made contact and Alonso suffered a puncture, forcing him back into the pits for the third time.

Button, however, had to save fuel and was not able to attack Rosberg in the final laps.

2010 British Grand Prix

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23 comments on How Button went from 14th to fourth (British Grand Prix analysis)

  1. sumedh said on 11th July 2010, 20:26

    Excellent charts Keith. Help us to realise how utterly bad Massa was today.

    I am really disappointed by Massa’s performance. He managed to reduce his tyres to nothing in just 38 laps, Vettel managed 51 on them. Alonso managed 47 on his sets of tyres too.

    And he took about 3-4 laps to get past Heikki, even managed to get re-passed by him once. If Webber-Red Bull breaks down, I reckon Ferrari will be calling first dibs on Webber.

    • sumedh said on 11th July 2010, 20:27

      Sorry, Alonso managed 37.

      But still, the Ferrari is supposed to be the kindest on its tyres.

      • nelly (@nelly) said on 11th July 2010, 21:21

        I think Massa flat spotted one of his tyres when he spun off (weirdly into the pit lane i think) and thats when he changed them so he probably could have lasted to the end of the race. Alonso would have lasted longer had he not got a puncture
        Judging by how far vettel got up the pack though, I think Massa could have done better and avoided spinning off.

      • Enigma (@enigma) said on 12th July 2010, 0:54

        Ferrari was the kindest to it’s tyres, but now they have the blown diffusor – which really hurts the tyres.

  2. John H said on 11th July 2010, 21:23

    It’s strange how Massa describes himself running into his teammate and subsequent puncture as ‘unlucky.’ It looked pretty reckless to me.

  3. Jenson did a fantastic Job as the whole McLaren Mercedes Team, considering the update was not very well and they had to change the whole setup!

    • Speed Damon said on 13th July 2010, 9:40

      I agree. Jenson drove brilliantly and really deserved that finish. Shame the can’t be said for Alonso or Ferrari

  4. David BR said on 11th July 2010, 22:56

    Yep, impressive stuff from Button. It’s a weird pattern he’s developing of being out-qualified and out-raced yet coming in close by the end, a mixture of calm, some good strategy calls and being able to overtake when he really has to – the last bit is often missed but his first lap today was a case in point. Compare and contrast with Alonso this race (at least Spain won though!)

  5. Ken said on 11th July 2010, 23:35

    Hey Keith, do you have a theory on how he can repeatedly get away with this sort of weekend? lol…

  6. sato113 (@sato113) said on 12th July 2010, 2:36

    British gp analysis: the new section DEFINATELY improved overtaking opportunities. well done silverstone!

    most overtakes where done into the heavy braking zone after farm curve and also after the loop down the wellington straight into brooklands.

    • Tom M in Australia said on 12th July 2010, 3:25

      Quite agree, congratulations to Silverstone. Can’t wait to see it finished next year.

      What a corner the new Abbey is!

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 12th July 2010, 7:32

      But that happened only after the restart brought the field together again and allowed Vettel to have a chance at overtaking into the top 10.

      Your right though, the new section proved it’s good.

      Interesting remarks from Rosberg, that he was glad of Button being behind him as the McLaren was not able to run as close as Alonso’s Ferrari in the first part of the race.
      Rosberg thought the Ferrari would have threatened him more, then again Button had to save fuel so was never really in a position to give it a try.

  7. BasCB (@bascb) said on 12th July 2010, 7:42

    Interesting statistic is the punctures statistic for this Britis GP.

    Vettel and Massa got their rear tyres sliced through incidents at the start. Petrov suffered his after going off track, Massa had it before or after his spin (might have been due to parts from Rosbergs car flying off or from the parts of De la Rosas wing) and Alonso had his wheel sliced by Liuzzi.
    We haven’t seen that for a while there.

  8. Christian said on 12th July 2010, 9:21

    Some great overtaking from Jenson in that first lap. Okay, two cars were off the road, but he overtook four cars on the road in about 1 minute 30 seconds. Nice start.

    Just got to sort that qualifying out. :P

    • Gill said on 14th July 2010, 12:26

      Making positions in the first few corners of the very furst lap isnt called overtaking and moreover the cars which he passed werent Red Bull o or Ferrari or Mmercedes, they were Sauber, Williams and Force India which are already slower than Macca.

      • Christian said on 14th July 2010, 15:44

        That doesn’t even make sense…

        So Webber overtaking Vettel at the start isn’t a real overtake? However, it is because Vettel was driving a Red Bull. If you overtake a car not in the top 4 then it doesn’t count? Riiiggghhhtt.

  9. kbdavies said on 12th July 2010, 12:21

    There is nothing “great” about overtaking cars that are missing apexes, running wide or are off track. Jenson did not overtake a single car on track after the 1st lap. That tells you a lot really.

    He could not overtake Rosberg (Nothing to do with saving fuel – this has been clarified.) He moaned about how hard overtaking was in Silverstone, forgetting his rival title contender, Seb Vettel, drove from 24th to 7th – in the same race. Yes he was helped by the safety car, but he managed to overtake a Williams, Mercedes, Torro Rosso and Force India, amongst others.
    Ferrari, Mercedes, Force India and Renault,and even Hulkenberg in the Williams managed overtakes.
    Lewis pressured Mark in the race far more than Jenson pressured anybody – and the Red Bull is 0.8sec faster than the McLaren!

    Im simply tired of people making excuses for Button. He is good, but not good enough. His deficiencies are glaring. He cant drive a car unless its perfect. He would rather sit behind a car than attempt an overtake. This is not smart. It is stupid – as it stops you from capitalising should someone up front should make an error. Imagine if Lewis had not been pressuring the Red Bulls in Turkey? In Silverstone, Lewis but more pressure on Webber, than Jenson put on Kobayashi in Valencia. If Jenson had overtaken Koba in Valencia, he would have jumped Lewis into 2nd when he had his drive through.

    Jenson would rather sit and collect the crumbs as they fall his way. Lewis would rather go out there, fight and snatch them away from his opponents. Logic will tell you Lewis would ALWAYS collect more points this way.

    • What it clearly tells you,the aero package is crap when faster drivers can’t pass slower driver

    • Carl C said on 13th July 2010, 16:29

      He made up 10 places during this race. Regardless of how he did it, he did it. He did something similar in his first win.

      About 2 years ago, he overtook almost the entire field in one lap in a very wet race, these things DON’T happen by accident.

      Schumacher made 7 titles barely ever overtaking anything on track. Does that mean his titles are worth less?

      Button can overtake when he needs too and he’s taken Rosberg quite recently to win a race.

      If you knew anything about the way Button races you’d know he plays a long game rather than rushing at every opportunity.

      Vettel overtook plenty of cars but if it hadn’t been for the safety car he’d have overtaken nothing probably. Would you belittle his achievements?

  10. MacLeod said on 12th July 2010, 14:53

    still i wonder why Sutil went so early to his softtyre? I thought he would cruize behind Button. I would stay out for a while trying to put more distance to the rest. Or was his hard trye so bad? Because everyone went to the hardtyre as soon possible.

  11. PT (@pt) said on 12th July 2010, 16:45

    This race gave us contrasting images of two great drivers – Robert Kubica, the cool racing driver who knows how to attack and how to defend, and Fernando Alonso – the hot headed Spaniard who makes fiery moves that eventually backfire.

  12. kbdavies said on 12th July 2010, 18:02

    @Domino –
    Please show me where i have attacked anyone on this forum? Or caused an argument? Or not listened to anyone’s argument? Please show me where i have made ad hominem attacks on anyone, or used straw man logic to defend my posts?

    I have simply given my consistent opinion on Button; and his race – like many others have given their opinion on other drivers and their races here.

    If i were you, i would be very careful about making unfounded accusations against other forum members.

  13. If Button wants to win the championship then he needs to qualify better. His race pace looks good so far this season but it’s Saturday where he needs to put his car on a good grid position.

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