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Button 'saved everything' for last lap charge

02 Jul 2016

Jenson Button says he took a lot of risks and gambled everything in order to secure fifth place in a thrilling dry-wet-dry qualifying session in Austria on Saturday.

The McLaren driver, who will start third on the grid, admitted he thought his chances were over after a mistake sent him through the gravel in Q2, but - having escaped into Q3 by just 0.006s - said the difficult mixed conditions played to his strengths and helped him come to the fore.

"I'm chuffed to bits to be honest," Button said afterward. "I thought it was all over in Q2 - I locked up into Turn 3, ran wide, and thought 'oh no'. But we just scraped through - that's a bit of luck, but we haven't had much of it this year so we'll take it.

"The conditions in Q3 are when I can get the best out of the car because of my style - corner by corner I feel the grip on entry. Even so you never feel good in those conditions - you are always a bit tentative, you always think you could have pushed a bit harder.

"The biggest problem here was, because it dries so fast, you had steam on the track so you couldn't see. You put on the dry [tyres] and you don't really know where they dry patches are, so I built up to it.

"I saved everything for the last lap, I took a lot of risks and luckily there were no yellow flags. It's mega, it was an enjoyable session."

While Button expects to fall back tomorrow, he said he hopes the result boosts the team in general, adding: "We're not quick enough to fight for the win, but I will give it my heart and soul to get the best out of the car.

"At the moment though I'm just going to enjoy this. I think it gives everyone a bit of a kick, and hopefully helps us all in the future."

In contrast to Button, team mate Fernando Alonso could only manage 14th on the grid, his cause not aided by what he labelled a 'primary school mistake'.

"We had a rain prediction so we tried to go out early in Q2 with new tyres, the only new ones that I had left, but for some reason my car was not fitted with the new ones, it was the Q1 tyres," he explained. 

"So I did a first try just for the sake of it, and then when I put the new tyres there was a yellow flag. The biggest mistake was to not put the new tyres like everybody else did.

"We are not in a very good position, and if on top of that we make those primary school mistakes, it's frustrating. If we put on new tyres to start the race, it will go better."

Button's third-place starting position comes as a result of five-place grid penalties for Mercedes' Nico Rosberg and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel (who qualified second and fourth respectively), both due to unscheduled gearbox changes.