Jenson Button, the man who started from pole here in Canada only a few years ago, will have this work cut out this afternoon to score points after a gearbox problem intervened in qualifying before the Briton had even posted a lap.
Button lost third gear during his first run in Q1 on Saturday which demoted him to the back row of the grid, one place ahead of Sebastian Vettel who crashed in the morning warm up. Honda will decide today whether not to replace the gearbox unit or simply repair the individual components that caused the problem.
Button admits that he will be looking to take risks and seize on any opportunities that should arise during the 70 lap dash around the Ill Notre Dame, a race notorious for incidents and safety car periods.
“I had a problem with third gear right at the start of Q1 which meant that I had no drive and that was the end of my qualifying today,” explained Button.
“It’s been a pretty tough weekend for us and it’s very disappointing to be starting from the back of the grid. We will just have to see how the race develops and take advantage of any opportunities which might arise.”
Honda have taken heart from Rubens Barrichello’s sterling charge into the top ten, the Brazilian eventually lapping eighth quickest, his best qualifying result of the year. The underlying pace of the RA108 suggests that Button is more than capable of challenging for points, if the cards fall his way.
“Starting at the back gives us the opportunity to take some risks with his strategy in order to put ourselves in a situation where we will be able to take advantage of a safety car scenario and other such opportunities,” said Steve Clark, Honda’s head of Race and Test Engineering.