Jenson Button rued a driver mistake that cost him the chance to progress to the final leg in qualifying, even though he didn’t expect to fare well against much stronger rivals in Q3.
While his rookie teammate Kevin Magnussen made it to the top 10 shootout and eventually qualified in ninth, Jenson Button missed the mark by a fraction of a second after locking his fronts at the hairpin.
“Not making the cut into Q3 is disappointing, especially considering the strong progress we’d made during Q1,’’ Button reflected on his fifth Q2 exit of the season. “On my final, critical run in Q2, I lost quite a lot of time at the hairpin – I locked up the fronts and ran wide – and I dropped a couple of tenths.”
“After that it was always going to be very close – but, even if I’d got through to the top 10, I think it would have been difficult to make much further progress up the Q3 order.”
McLaren has made significant progress when it comes to one lap pace as it tries to get maximum out of their 2014 campaign, before reuniting ties with Japanese car manufacturer Honda. However, the team is still behind fellow Mercedes runners Force India in long runs.
“I haven’t looked too deeply at the strategy for tomorrow yet, but hopefully the ability to choose our starting tyre will help us make some progress,’’ Button added.
The timing of Button’s Q2 exit was certainly not ideal, given McLaren are soon to announce their line up for 2015.
Meanwhile, Kevin Magnussen believes ninth was all he could get out of his MP4-29 and asked the team to continue putting new bits on the car.
“We got the most out of what we had today – which is worth underlining – and to make it into Q3 still feels pretty decent, but we’re not fast enough. We need to keep pushing to develop the car,’’ Magnussen said.
Lack of downforce continues to be a major problem for McLaren - a problem exemplified at Singapore - despite the Woking based squad bringing a major upgrade package to this race.
“I don’t think there was much more I could have done: we’re not quick enough here, so hopefully tomorrow there’ll be some well-timed Safety Cars and a couple of opportune retirements to help us move up the order
“We’ll do our best tomorrow, as usual, and I’ll be pushing as hard as I can. I’m a racer – so, if I see an opportunity to move forward by taking a few chances, then why not? We don’t have much to lose, so we might as well try to maximise what’s available to us. I’ll be doing everything I can in the race – nothing less. Hopefully, we’ll get some useful points,’’ the Dane concluded.