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Jenson Button gracious in defeat to 'faultless' Nico Rosberg

The Englishman was left to lament a fitting problem with his McLaren, while pleased that his team is leading both world championships.

Image: Andy Wong/AP/Press Association Images

McLAREN’S JENSON BUTTON could not begrudge Nico Rosberg his maiden F1 win in China, saying the Mercedes man drove a ‘faultless’ race.

Rosberg led home both Button and team-mate Lewis Hamilton in a thrilling race at the Chinese Grand Prix for Mercedes’ first triumph since 1955, but the McLaren duo were pleased to maintain their lead in the constructors championship and their 1-2 in the drivers’ standings.

The race looked poised for a monumental finale between Button and Rosberg before the Englishman was delayed by a fitting problem, with his rear tyre, at his final pit stop.

“Before the final stop our race pace was good, especially on the harder tyre, and then the last stop, I stopped on the marks and we had problems with the rear of the car and lost nine to 10 seconds,” Button said.

“Congratulations to Nico today – he drove a faultless race. But who knows what we could have achieved if we’d had a clear run at him in the final stint?

“It was a pity because I had four cars in front of me, and I would have had a nice clear track to hunt down Nico.

“More important, it’s been a great day for McLaren because we’re now leading both world championships.”

The result put Hamilton into the world championship lead, two points ahead of Button with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso third, ahead of Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Rosberg.

“It’s been a while since I was at the top of the drivers’ world championship – but we’ve got to remain focused,” Hamilton said.

“I’m very happy to make it up to the podium. The team did a great job through the pit stops and I think it was one of the best races so far in the season. It was incredible. Fantastic day.”

Vettel challenged for the podium before he was passed by both McLaren drivers to finish fifth behind Red Bull team-mate Webber.

The German admitted the race pace on the straights still was not there but was happy to recover after a poor first lap.

“We were generally too slow on the straights, and we’re losing time there, it made it difficult to pass other people,” Vettel said.

“But overall, I’m pretty happy with fifth given the poor first lap. I missed out on the start, usually I’m pretty quick with that, but today I was one of the last ones.

“The first lap wasn’t great, but with the strategy we managed to come back. I think the weekend was good for us, we learned a lot and hopefully we will take these lessons on board and go in the right direction for next week.”

Webber meanwhile, made it a third-straight fourth finish continuing on his consistent start to the season.

“Trying to get the balance right for the whole race was very tricky. In the end, fourth was not too bad, it wasn’t the maximum, but it’s very tight between the teams at the front,” Webber said.

“I have to be satisfied with fourth place. I made a few mistakes running wide trying to push onto the back straight.

“For me it’s three fourths on the bounce now, it’s good points and we leave here reasonably satisfied, but we need to keep boxing and keep improving.”

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