The Honda Racing F1 Team's Jenson Button ended this evening's thrilling Singapore Grand Prix in ninth position, just missing out on a points finish. His team-mate Rubens Barrichello endured a more frustrating time at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, retiring from the race on lap 15 with an electrical problem.
The drama began almost immediately with the grid proving to be very slippery off-line. Jenson started the race on the dirty side of the track and dropped from 12th to 14th on the run down to the first corner. Rubens was on the clean side and was able to gain two places on the approach to Turn 1.
The drivers held position until the first of two Safety Car periods in the race. It was deployed for the first time on lap 14, shortly after Rubens had pitted for fuel and tyres. Almost immediately after rejoining the race, he was forced to retire as his car came to a halt out on track.
Jenson made his first pitstop during the first Safety Car period on lap 17, before the race went green. He then lapped in 10th position until making his second and final stop on lap 35, from which he emerged in 12th place. He had climbed up to 10th place prior to the second Safety Car period on lap 50, and was promoted to ninth when Kimi Raikkonen crashed with four laps of the race remaining.
An eventful race but one in which the safety car periods did not work to your advantage today?
Jenson Button: "Yes, it was one of those races today where luck and the timing of the safety car could make or break your race. Unfortunately luck was not on our side and the timing of the two safety cars hurt our two-stop strategy. In addition to that, we were just not competitive or quick enough as I was struggling for balance for much of the race. To finish in 9th position is always frustrating as you are just outside of the points."
A frustrating early conclusion just when you were starting to gain some real momentum?
Rubens Barrichello: "Coming into the race from 18th on the grid, we were obviously hoping for any eventuality to help us move further up the grid. That opportunity came on lap 14 when my engineer made a brilliant call following Piquet's crash. I came into the pits just before the safety car was called and when I rejoined I would have been in a strong position. But then the engine just died. I had lots of fuel on board and my place was great because I had good pace and was keeping up with the whole group in front of me. So we could have had a great end to the race. We lost a great opportunity today and obviously I feel very sad about that."
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Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "We decided to put the cars on two different strategies today, the rationale for which was in part due to the predicted safety car outings. The first safety car played into the hands of Rubens and those on a similar one-stop strategy. Moreover, on the pitwall we anticipated that the safety car would be called out and brought Rubens in to refuel him before the flags went to yellow. We would have been in an extremely good position for the balance of the race, however he stopped shortly after leaving the pits with an electrical problem. In as much as that situation helped Rubens, that was the safety car window that hurt people on the same two-stop strategy as Jenson. He was forced to pit with the pack which handed the advantage to one-stoppers. Later in the race the traffic situation was such that Jenson was unable to improve, so we decided to pit him early for his second pitstop and he was one of the first cars to fuel to the end of the race. This was purely a gamble in anticipation of another safety car, which did eventually come but it was too late and unfortunately the timing was such that Jenson simply had a heavier car as a result."