Jenson Button says his retirement from the Canadian Grand Prix came after his Honda power unit was pushed “a bit too far”, but remains confident engine reliability is not an issue for McLaren.
The 2009 world champion was chasing team-mate Fernando Alonso for 10th place when he had to park his MP4-31 in a plume of smoke on Lap 10. This was Button’s second engine problem in Montreal after the Briton also suffered an oil leak in free practice.
Reliability was one of Honda’s main weaknesses during their torrid 2015 campaign, but Button believes his DNF should not be seen as the return of past demons.
“The engine just went pop, as I was coming out of the hairpin!”, he said. “I told the team I was losing power, looked in the mirrors and saw all the smoke and sparks, so I understood quickly and I stopped.
“The engine was still running, so I turned it off. This is the engine we had been using for the last few races, so we may have pushed it a bit too far. I don’t think reliability was an issue, we just pushed it a bit too much this time.”
With Honda bringing a new spec of turbocharger to Montreal, Button said before the event that McLaren should not fear the power-sensitive nature of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
The 36-year-old thinks he could have challenged to extend his three-race points-scoring streak had he not suffered his race-ending issue.
“It’s a shame because I was saving a lot of fuel while I was stuck behind Fernando, using the DRS in every lap and that was putting me in a good position, because we have to save a lot of fuel around this track.
“I was in 11th place, saving fuel behind my team mate… It’s always like that when you are in a good position and saving fuel that you don’t finish… It’s a shame as we could have got some points today, but I didn’t get to see what we could do.”