Button achieves McLaren’s maximum as Hamilton falters

Jenson Button was happy with his qualifying performance, despite admitting that McLaren are still not on the pace of the front runners and that his fourth place was the best that he could achieve.

This is in contrast to Lewis Hamilton who continued to suffer a frustrating weekend, on and off the track, after being eliminated in Q2. Hamilton will start eleventh and stated that a number of factors contributed to his low grid slot.

Jenson Button – 4th: “After our strong performance yesterday, this morning the car didn’t work as well as we’d expected. We lacked grip, and it looks as though the cars ahead of us here have more downforce.

“Nevertheless, qualifying this afternoon was good. I felt pleased with the car on every lap except the final one in Q3. I don’t know whether it was the wind picking up, but I didn’t feel the car was working quite as well as it had in the first two sessions. I didn’t have the balance I’d had previously – there was a lot more understeer in the car but it only cost me a tenth or two.

“So, the best lap we probably could have done was a 1m24.4s which is still half a second off the pacesetters. We’re not there yet, but this is an improvement because we’re a lot closer to the front than we were in Bahrain.

“I’m happy with the performance of the team this weekend. We pretty much got the best out of the package we have at the moment.”

Lewis Hamilton – 11th: “Today was a surprise I wasn’t expecting to be out in Q2. I felt I got as much as I could out of the car, but I just couldn’t get the grip from the tyres.

“On my first run in Q2, I was held up by traffic, so I wasn’t able to do a quick lap. I pitted early, got a clear lap, but still struggled to find time in the final sector even with new tyres. I don’t know what the reason for that was.

“So I didn’t have a great day, but it’s encouraging to see Jenson doing such a good job. Hopefully, we’ll both have a good race tomorrow.”

Martin Whitmarsh: “Jenson performed strongly in qualifying this afternoon, and a second-row grid position is the result. With good race pace, he ought to be able to score reasonably heavily tomorrow.

“Lewis put in a decent lap in Q1, but never felt comfortable with his car in Q2 and consequently failed narrowly to squeeze into Q3. That was a bit of a surprise to all of us, Lewis included, but we know what a competitive individual he is and there’s therefore no reason why he, too, shouldn’t have a good race tomorrow.”