• Button finishes 14th after crashing into another F1 car
• ‘It was a terrible day, it was my fault’ says McLaren driver
Jenson Button apologised to his McLaren team for his “horrendous” performance at the Malaysian Grand Prix. A remarkable race was won by Fernando Alonso in his unfancied Ferrari, with the outsider Sergio Pérez a surprise second. But it was a disappointing day for Red Bull and McLaren, and particularly for Button, who had won the opening race in Australia a week ago.
He finished 14th after crashing into the back of the HRT driver Narain Karthikeyan on the ninth corner of the 15th lap and later said: “I blew what could have been some good points and I have to say sorry to the team. I am amazed that I’m still third in the championship.
“I can only smile. It was a terrible day. It was looking so good. I was picking people off, but I hit the brakes and locked the rears. I tried to slow the car down going into the corner but I could not stop myself from hitting Karthikeyan, who is in the corner longer than most people.
“But it was totally my fault. I found a car in my way when I totally out-broke myself and I lost the front wing and it took a long time to change it. When I came back out, I could not do anything in the race. It was the weirdest race. This is an awful race for me. It couldn’t have been any worse. Hopefully that’s my bad luck and my bad race gone.”
Button’s team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, finished third but as he started from pole and led the race he did not look happy either. Hamilton shrugged: “I won’t complain. I think the car has been good all weekend and the team did a good job and I’m on the podium again, which is my target – to have consistency.”
But there was no shortage of smiles from the normally sombre-looking Alonso, who said: “This is a Sunday we will remember. It is a big surprise. We were not competitive in Australia and we were not competitive here. We just wanted to collect some points. It’s unbelievable.”
Ferrari were desperately disappointing in Australia and Alonso had said it would not get any better here. But he survived a strong challenge from Pérez to secure his 28th win. “We are in a position that we don’t want to be: fighting to get into Q3 and fighting to score some points,” Alonso said. “We want to fight for poles and victories so definitely in these first two races we found ourselves off the pace.
“The aim was to not lose too many points, and we didn’t lose any points. This is positive news about these first two races, but coming to China, Bahrain and Barcelona there is a lot of stuff coming, the team is putting in a lot of effort. We trust each other and this win will make us very happy in the next two days in the factory but does not change our determination to keep on winning.”
Pérez, the first Mexican to finish on the podium since Pedro Rodríguez at Zandvoort in 1971, and a driver tipped to join Alonso at Ferrari next year, thought he should have won. “I think the win today was really possible,” he said. “I knew I had to be quick to overtake [Alonso] as I had a lot of degradation in the tyres. I was looking for a way to get him and then I ran a bit wide and touched the wet kerb and was lucky to not go off.
“I lost control of the car and lost the fight for the victory. But in the end second place is a great result for the team. It’s many points. It’s only the second race, but hopefully we can keep improving to fight.”