Jenson Button hailed his sixth-place finish as “out of this world” after he secured his best result of the season in yesterday’s Austrian Grand Prix.
Button, 36, started from third – his highest grid position in nearly two years – after taking advantage of Saturday’s changeable qualifying conditions in addition to penalties served by Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel.
A strong getaway from Button saw the 2009 world champion, who has endured a largely miserable 18 months with his uncompetitive McLaren-Honda package, trail Lewis Hamilton in second place for the opening seven laps.
The Englishman’s sluggish Honda engine was soon exposed, but a composed performance still enabled him to see out his best result since October’s United States Grand Prix.
“To finish sixth is out of this world,” said a jubilant Button. “It was awesome so I am very happy.
“It was a great race. I had a good start – I didn’t quite win the first lap which was my aim – but we had British drivers first and second for seven laps. I couldn’t hold it for any longer than that. As soon as one got past they all did.
“At certain times it was really frustrating, but we still had some great battles out there. The cars that beat us were extremely quick, and we also beat some very quick cars – the Williams and the Force India – so, it was a very good day.”
Button’s future in F1 beyond this season remains up in the air. His contract with McLaren expires at the end of the campaign, and the British team are widely expected to promote their highly-rated reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne rather than offer Button a new deal.
As such, next Sunday’s British Grand Prix could be the 17th and final edition of his world-championship winning career.
“Going to Silverstone we don’t expect to be in this position,” Button, who has never finished on the podium at his home race, added. “Sixth would be absolutely amazing.”
Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen finished second and third respectively, with British rookie Jolyon Palmer 12th, and former Yorkshire team Manor Racing earned their first point of the season as Pascal Wehrlein finished tenth.