Red Bull: Button Was a "Sacrificial Lamb" for McLaren

As the championship finale approaches with each completed race, we have now seen the first episode of a potential tit-for-tat exchange of hostilities between Red Bull Racing and McLaren Mercedes.

Shortly after the Japanese Grand Prix last weekend, Red Bull's team boss Christian Horner hinted that McLaren planned to use Jenson Button as a “sacrificial lamb” for his teammate Lewis Hamilton. Meaning that the Woking based team decided to keep the reigning world champion longer on the track before his pit stop in order to slow down the two Red Bull drivers. That would have helped Hamilton to close the gap on them and, consequently, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

But then it looked like Hamilton developed a problem and they aborted that strategy for Jenson. It looked a little bit like he was a sacrificial lamb. I don't know. It just seemed strange,” Horner was quoted as saying to British newspaper Daily Telegraph.

Midway through his second stint, Hamilton's car suffered a mechanical problem, as the third gear of his MP4-25's gearbox failed. That enabled Button to eventually pass his teammate for 4th place – as his late pit stop had dropped him to 5th place – and further close the gap on his compatriot in the overall classification.

While admitting that such a strategy could have been enforced by his team in Japan, McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh insisted what happened was solely Button's trying on a different pit stop strategy for the race, which eventually didn't work out.

If we had left him out there longer ... it is not how we play our game. Maybe others would but that is not how we go motor racing,” insisted the McLaren boss.
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