By Alex Kapadai
Reigning Formula One world champion Jenson Button admitted he was too conservative with his tyres after finishing in seventh place in Bahrain today.
“Initially I was very cautious with the tyres,” the McLaren driver conceded after the first Grand Prix of the 2010 season, “but they seemed to be holding [up] pretty well which is surprising actually as they worked better than I thought.
“We’re pretty good at looking after our tyres with our car, but there’s always room for improvement and we all want more speed and more downforce.
“Set-up wise the car was okay, there are a few things I need to look at to make I more my style.”
The world champion finished four places and 22 seconds behind new team-mate Lewis Hamilton after a largely low-key debut weekend as a McLaren driver, the Briton spending the 49-lap race running in close company with Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher and Red Bull driver Mark Webber.
With drivers and teams heading into the race unsure as to how hard to push their tyres on fuel tanks of fuel, Button conceded he probably didn’t take enough out of them when he was chasing Webber in the opening laps – although swift pit work from his McLaren crew ensured he got ahead of the Australian when they pitted together on lap 16.
“The first stint I didn’t know what was going to happen with the tyres so I was taking it easy,” he told reporters.
“I was a bit sad that we pitted when we did because I felt that I had looked after the tyres a little bit too much as the last five laps of the stint I was able to push and catch Webber and Michael.
“Then Michael obviously pitted the lap before me which helped him quite a bit and he was able to pull away, but I jumped Webber at the stop which was great.
“It was really good pit stops by the guys – both Lewis and myself jumped someone which was really good.”
Thereafter he ran within several seconds of Schumacher but couldn’t stay with the German’s W01 during the twisty middle sector of the lap.
“Then it was initially pacing myself with the tyres and then I started pushing sort of with 20 laps to go and I caught up with Michael, but I couldn’t do anything behind him,” Button said.
“I didn’t have enough pace in the middle section to stay with him to have a go at him in the last section.
“So that was a bit disappointing, but it was fun all the same.”