January 19, 1980
|Career statistics to end 2013|
In the final race of the 2013 season in Brazil Jenson Button started his 247th Grand Prix. That remarkable tally carried him past former McLaren man David Coulthard as Britain’s most experienced F1 driver.
It also yielded Jenson’s best result of the entire season. Sadly for the 2009 World Champion, it was a fourth place, which tells you all you need to know about the dismal season the McLaren team had endured.
With teammate Sergio Perez – now gone – achieving nothing higher than fifth all season, it was McLaren’s worst year since 1980. Button’s own ninth place overall was his worst since the pre-Brawn days of 2008; he finished an astonishing 326 points adrift of World Champion Vettel.
The season was characterized, not only by the McLaren’s lack of speed, but by regular friction on track between the two drivers. More often than not it was Button complaining to the team about the aggression from his Mexican side-kick.
There was more than a hint of clutching at straws when team principal Martin Whitmarsh reeled off some F1 stats after his drivers took fourth and sixth places in Brazil.
“As of today,” Whitmarsh pointed out, “McLaren became the first team in Formula 1 history to have both its cars classified in every grand prix during the season.
“And, also as of today, McLaren completed 99.17% of the season’s total possible race distance –11,488km out of a possible 11,584km – which is not only better than every other team managed this season but is also a new world record.”
Big deal, after finishing fifth, 474 points adrift of the champions…
Still, Button is nothing if not defiant in the face of adversity.
“This is a great way to end the year,” he said after that Interlagos result, “and now our focus turns squarely to 2014. McLaren is an incredibly strong and powerful organisation – and, believe me, we will fight back.”