Circuit of The Americas, Sunday October 25
In tricky damp-but-drying conditions, Jenson Button drove a strategically perfect United States Grand Prix to finish seventh at the flag. A 5s penalty applied to Carlos Sainz subsequently moved him up to sixth – his best finish of the 2015 season.
Jenson was one of the very first drivers successfully to make the Option tyre work on the drying track, a move that helped push him into the top 10. His second stop – under the Safety Car – consolidated his position; but it was Jenson’s risky call to make a third and final stop, to stem the onset of graining, that shored-up his race. From fifth, he dropped to eighth, but battled back to sixth by virtue of the fresher rubber.
Fernando Alonso’s race started unpromisingly: he was pitched into a spin by Felipe Massa as the pack turned in to Turn One on the first lap. After limping back to the pits to fit a fresh set of Inters, he dropped to the back of the grid, one minute adrift of the lead pack.
It was only once the Safety Car had been deployed to retrieve Marcus Ericsson’s stricken Sauber that Fernando was able to get back into the race. He unlapped himself, latched onto the back of the pack and quickly started to attack.
From there, he pushed his way into the top five – before suffering a sudden loss of power, caused by a possible fuel-system sensor failure that dropped him back down the field before it could be cured with a switch change. On the last lap, he lost 10th position to Daniel Ricciardo. He finished 11th – 1.5s outside the points.
#14 Fernando Alonso
FP3 14th 2m03.375s (+3.858s) 9 laps
Q1 9th 1m59.704s (on Full Wets)
Q2 11th overall 2m00.265s (on Full Wets) – started 9thowing to grid penalties for VET and RAI
Fastest Lap 1m44.323s on lap 55 (+3.657s, 11th)
Three: laps 2 (7.79s – puncture), 18 (2.65s) and 26
Pit-stops (3.50s) [Inter-Inter-Opt-Opt]
“This was one of the best races of my career.
“To be running one minute behind the penultimate car on lap two, and then be running as high as fifth position with 10 laps remaining was quite a feat.
“After such a strong recovery, it was a shame that a mechanical issue in the closing laps put us out of the fight. That meant my feelings after the race were more sad than happy – but we can go away and continue to try to improve these issues.
“Finally, congratulations to Lewis [Hamilton] on winning his third world championship. He’s been very strong all season, and that’s a great achievement. Hopefully next year we can give him a little bit of a tougher time than we have this season!”
#22 Jenson Button
FP3 16th 2m05.283s (+5.766s) 7 laps
Q1 12th 2m00.261s (on Full Wets)
Q2 14th overall 2m01.193s (on Full Wets) – started 11thdue to grid penalties for VET, RAI & BOT
Finished 7th – classified 6th due to 5s penalty for SAI
Fastest Lap 1m43.026s on lap 50 (+2.360s, 8th)
Pit-stops Three: laps 17 (5.35s), 27 (2.84s), and 44 (3.46s) [Inter-Opt-Opt-Opt]
“This was a strategic race today – and, strategy-wise, we did a perfect race. The team should be very happy with what we achieved; we made all the right calls, but still we need to go away and look at our lack of performance.
“In the opening laps, I really enjoyed racing in the drying conditions, and I felt like I was able to make a bit of a difference. We got onto slicks before the others, and made the right calls, but, once it was dry and everybody knew where to brake, it became a lot more difficult for us. We just couldn’t match the others’ pace once they all found their feet.
“Nevertheless, it’s great to get some points – and I enjoyed the challenge. We just didn’t have the pace.
“Finally, congratulations to my old friend and team-mate Lewis. He and his team haven’t put a foot wrong all year – this is a fantastic achievement for him.”
Racing director, McLaren-Honda
“We at McLaren are not in the habit of celebrating minor places – but Jenson’s run to sixth today is one of our best results of the season so far and on that basis we can be happy if not satisfied, if you see what I mean.
“As ever in topsy-turvy races such as today’s, Jenson mastered the conditions adroitly, staying out of trouble despite the treacherous conditions and moving calmly through the field, conserving his tyres where necessary, and bagging us a very valuable eight world championship points as a result.
“Through no fault of his own, Fernando had a rather more eventful race, but, even so, he drove superbly and failed by only a very narrow margin to score points himself.
“Our mechanics never put a foot wrong all weekend, and, despite the complexities caused by the changeable weather, our engineers and strategists also did an excellent job all afternoon. Well done, guys.
“As we’ve been saying throughout the year, we know we’ve got a lot of work still to do, but it’s clear that we’re making progress, together with Honda, and that’s encouraging for us all.
“We’ll be on track again in just five days’ time, in Mexico City, so let’s hope we can build on today’s result when we get there.
“Finally, I want to take this opportunity to say ‘well done’ to Lewis, who still has many friends at Woking who remember his six seasons as a McLaren driver very fondly. Winning three world championships is a mighty impressive achievement – and, in annexing title number three today, he’s become only the sixth driver to have scored a world championship hat-trick, joining Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet and of course Ayrton Senna, who won all his world championships for McLaren.
Honda R&D senior managing officer - chief officer of motorsport
“We didn’t have much luck with the weather this weekend, which severely limited our running time, but I think the results we gained today were the outcome of good teamwork to set up the power unit and chassis in such a short time. It was a great collaborative effort of the two drivers, pit-work and race strategies.
“Fernando's car had been fairly competitive through most of the race, thanks to a combination of his skills and the new Spec 4 engine, which performed to our expectations throughout the weekend.
“However, we think he temporarily lost power due to a possible injector issue – which was rectified before the end of the race. We’ll need to investigate further to confirm the situation. Needless to say, we are very disappointed that he lost precious points positions because of this issue.
“We now head straight to Mexico, where we will focus and use the next few days to prepare the engines and analyse data to be ready.”