“We made the best of what we had”
Yas Marina Circuit, Sunday November 23
McLaren secured fifth position in the constructors’ world championship in today’s double-points finale in Abu Dhabi. In the drivers’ championship, Jenson Button cruelly lost seventh place to Felipe Massa, finally finishing eighth on 126 points. In his rookie season, Kevin Magnussen finished 11th, scoring 55 points.
Today, Jenson once again drove a fast and intelligent race. He made a good start, slotted into fourth place and then battled hard against Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, eventually finishing fifth.
Kevin started ninth, but suffered first-lap contact with Adrian Sutil – an incident that damaged the right-hand side of his car. Despite then showing strong early pace on the Prime tyre, he struggled for performance during his middle stint on the Option. That compromised his final run to the finish, and he crossed the line 11th.
Fastest lap 1m46.739s on lap 47 (+2.243s, 9th)
Pitstops Two: laps 6 (2.82s) and 28 (2.54s) [Opt-Pri-Pri]
“That was tough! I think we made the best of what we had this evening: in terms of strategy, we did the right thing, but we never really had enough pace to attack the cars in front.
“So, fifth was as good as it was going to be. Getting the maximum from the car is all that can be asked of a racing driver, and I think I’ve proved this year that I’m still at the top of my game.
“Since it’s the last race of the season, I’d like to say a huge ‘thanks’ to Tom [Stallard] and Bernie [Collins], my two race engineers, who’ve done a fantastic job this year, as have all my mechanics. The whole team has been so supportive, which is lovely.
“It’s been a good day for me, but a much better day for my old team buddy Lewis [Hamilton]. Winning two world titles is an absolutely amazing achievement. Congratulations to him – he deserves it.
“I’m sure tonight will be fun – I’ll celebrate a good end to the year with my family.”
Fastest lap 1m46.824s on lap 37 (+2.328s, 10th)
Pitstops Two: laps 21 (2.50s) and 29 (2.32s) [Pri-Opt-Pri]
“That was a difficult race. I had quite a bit of contact with Adrian [Sutil] on the first lap – and, after that, the front of the car never felt quite right, but it wasn’t too bad, so I could carry on.
“My opening stint on the Prime went well – the tyre was holding on well and I felt like I could manage the degradation. But once I’d pitted and changed to the Option, the race slipped away from us. The softer tyre ought to have helped us gain some positions over the drivers running the Prime, but we just stayed where we were, and that ruined the race for us.
“Congratulations to Lewis – he’s driven brilliantly all season, and completely deserves the title this year. He’s had a stunning season.
“Finally, I want to pass on my thanks to the whole McLaren team. This season has been an incredible experience for me – I’ve learned so much this year. It’s been fantastic – so thanks, guys!”
Racing director, McLaren Mercedes
“Jenson drove a strong race, securing a fine fifth place by the finish, having managed his tyre wear consummately all afternoon despite enjoying a spirited dice with Fernando [Alonso] at around half-distance.
“On a different strategy, having sustained a degree of car damage during first-lap contact with Adrian, Kevin kicked off his race with a long stint on the Prime, during which he also battled Fernando, holding him off capably for many laps.
“Kevin eventually pitted on lap 21, and, on Options, proceeded to manage his tyre wear almost too well, for his rubber was still in good fettle at the end of that stint; in hindsight, perhaps we should have instructed him to push a bit harder, which he easily could have done, but it’s easy to say that after the event and, anyway, that’s racing.
“In his final stint, back on Primes, Kevin’s pace was good again, but it was too late to make much difference and unfortunately he ended up 11th.
“So, at the end of a long and arduous season, we immediately turn our attention to the future. But, before doing so, I want to say one more thing about the present, and even touch briefly on the past. Today we raced for the last time with Mercedes-Benz engines, and I want to congratulate that venerable company on its dual triumphs this season – constructors’ world championship and drivers’ world championship – and to thank our old friends at Stuttgart and Brixworth for the past 20 seasons, during which McLaren and Mercedes-Benz enjoyed so much success together.
“Last but not least, on behalf of all at McLaren, I want to say ‘bravo’ to Lewis, who began his Formula 1 career at McLaren and whom so many at Woking still regard with such affection.
“On Tuesday and Wednesday, here in Abu Dhabi, we’ll be testing our hybrid McLaren-Honda MP4-29H/1X1 for the first time, following our filming day with the car at Silverstone last week. It’s an exciting time for both McLaren and Honda, and for all who sail and will sail in the good ship McLaren-Honda. Ahead of us are many weeks of hard graft, but you may be well sure we’re up for the task.
“Bring it on!”