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Pit error may have cost Button podium

Mar 24, 2013, 9:30 AM EDT

F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia Getty Images

Jenson Button believes that he could have challenged Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg for a place on the podium had a mistake in the pits not ruined his race.

When making his third stop, Button left his pit box before the front right wheel had been attached properly, causing him to stop outside the Sauber garage. Eventually, his mechanics wheeled him back, but by the time he left the pits he was well down the order.

“I don’t know what would have happened. We could have pushed the Mercedes and they were fighting between themselves so it could have been interesting. I think at worst it would have been fifth.”

Instead, Button retired from the race with three laps to go, which will entitle him to a fresh gearbox for the Chinese Grand Prix in three weeks’ time. McLaren may have struggled in the opening two races, but Button feels that the team has made a step forward.

“It is a good improvement over the last race just a week ago. We never thought we would be fighting for fifth, let alone a little bit better, so there are positives.

“But it is always very tough when you have an issue like this as it is a lot of points to throw away – even fifth is ten points.”

Subsequently, McLaren sit seventh in the constructors’ championship with just four points.

The team will be pleased with their pace today though, and Sergio Perez proved the capability of the MP4-28 by setting the fastest lap of the race late on. However, four points from the opening two races is not the start McLaren would have wanted to make, and there will be a lot of hard work in Woking ahead of the next race in China.

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