McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe declared the Japanese Grand Prix a successful damage limitation exercise for his team.
Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton finished fourth and fifth at Suzuka after a difficult weekend for McLaren. But despite losing a further five points to Red Bull in the constructors' championship, Lowe was pleased that McLaren came out of the weekend in the position that it did.
"Considering the grid, we are pretty pleased because we limited the damage," Lowe told AUTOSPORT. "We gained in the drivers' championship and we didn't lose as much as we could have because it looked to me that Red Bull were on for a 1-2. So it could have been a great deal worse."
McLaren feared the worst heading into the race, with Hamilton starting ninth after his Q3 was compromised by having to back off for yellow flags triggered by Kimi Raikkonen's spin. Button, who was third fastest in qualifying, was also facing a struggle thanks to a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.
"In a way, it felt like having two penalties, one on each car – Jenson with his gearbox and Lewis with the yellow flag," said Lowe. "So we're not down in the dumps and we've limited the damage. We haven't done a perfect job this weekend in getting the best out of the car."
Lowe added that there was no discussion on the McLaren pit-wall about ordering Button to let Hamilton catch and pass him in the closing stages. Hamilton is the only McLaren driver with a realistic, if distant, chance in the drivers' championship and had they done so, it would closed what is now a 42-point gap to leader Fernando Alonso to 40 points.
"No," said Lowe when asked if McLaren considered doing so. "Jenson was competing for a podium and Lewis didn't have the pace to challenge the Sauber at that point."