Jenson Button has admitted that his chances of retaining the Formula 1 World Championship title are now all but over following an uncompetitive showing in the Korean Grand Prix. He is now 42 points behind Fernando Alonso with two races to go.
The McLaren driver finished a distant 12th, having struggled for grip and revealed afterward that he suffered from locking brakes throughout the race. To compound the issue, he was forced to take on a setup of intermediate tires having churned through his available sets of wet tires.
While Button has vowed not to give up on the title until it's a mathematical impossibility, he accepts that he is now relying on a significant level of misfortune from all of his rivals in order to stay in the hunt.
"Everyone else needs to have failures," he said. "That's the way it is. I don't know what happened but there must have been something wrong because the car was undriveable."
Asked if he would now assist his teammate Lewis Hamilton – who moved up to second in the points behind Alonso – Button replied: "I won't be asked. If I can't mathematically win it I'd do whatever I needed to, to help the team.
"My championship, if the other guys don't have non-scores or issues, is pretty much over. But you don't win championships by sitting back and saying, 'I can't win it anymore.' You have to keep on fighting. Seeing what's happened to the Red Bulls here proves it can turn around easily. I'm not saying it's going to be easy – it's a very small chance but that's all,l I need to keep pushing."
Button struggled for speed from the outset of the race, and hinted that new parts fitted to his McLaren may have contributed to the lack of grip he suffered in the tricky track conditions.
"I just didn't have any grip, I was so slow," he said. "I was pretty much the slowest person on the circuit. I was struggling with locking fronts, I couldn't not lock them so when I hit the brakes we locked up. Every time I braked for the corner I went straight on, because I couldn't stop the car, even though I was dialing backward and backward on the brake bias.
"[Mine and Hamilton's] cars were different and it was something that I chose to run with. I had a new part that I thought would benefit me here – it did in the simulator – but looking at it now, some of the issues I had could possibly have come from what I was running.
"And with the limited testing we have you have got to take risks. I think it was the right thing to take the chance but it didn't work out for us, especially in the tricky conditions."