Jenson Button’s hopes of defending his Japanese Grand Prix win have taken a significant hit, with news that the McLaren driver will have to take a five-place grid penalty at this weekend’s Grand Prix.
After finishing a fighting second last time out at Singapore, post-race checks revealed that the Englishman’s gearbox had suffered the same fault that triggered team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s retirement while leading the same race.
While one would marvel that he managed to finish the race at all, his 75-point deficit to championship leader Fernando Alonso means that he will need a sequence of wins over the remaining six races to have any hope of staying in the championship hunt. The news puts a major dent in his championship aspirations.
His Mercedes-bound team-mate Hamilton will also have a new gearbox fitted after his failure at Marina Bay, but because he didn’t see the chequered flag, he won’t incur any grid penalty.