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Jenson Button Q&A: McLaren qualifying struggles a mystery

11 Apr 2015

After strong showings in practice, McLaren appeared ready to break out of Q3 for the first time this season in China. Come Saturday afternoon however their form deserted them, consigning Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso to 17th and 18th respectively. The gap to the midfield pack might have closed, but as Button explains the team are still searching for answers for their qualifying travails...

Q: Jenson, another disappointing qualifying, and after it had looked pretty promising yesterday...

Jenson Button: Yeah! We've made some good improvements yesterday, but qualifying wasn't for us today, for a few reasons. I don't know why.

Q: Is there hope that you can do better in the race?

JB: I hope so. The car feels relatively good – a few little things here and there, but I am pretty happy with the balance. We had some little issues with the rear wing, but nothing too bad.

Q: So will we see more excitement from you tomorrow?

JB: Keep your fingers crossed! Let's wait and see. I don't know what the weather will be tomorrow, or what the other cars will do. We had hoped to beat [others] in qualifying, but we didn't unfortunately.

Q: The reality though is that you were actually only a few tenths off making it through to Q2 - and that looks like a step forward...

JB: Yes, it does - but the reality is also that we had hoped to be closer to the top ten. Not being in the top ten, but closer. I didn’t manage the perfect lap, but even if I had it wouldn’t have helped us much. So I am a bit surprised. It shows you have to be more competitive. In practice we’ve seemed quite competitive - maybe we ran a bit less fuel than other people, but I would be surprised if that was the case. I really don’t know why we didn’t find more pace today. 

Q: How hard is it to stay patient having weekends like this?

JB: It's not all bad. In fact most of the weekend I have been happy with the pace and the improvements and the progress we've made - but qualifying still doesn't seem to be our cup of tea. The good news is that the feeling is much better than at the first two races. We definitely have been closer to Q2 today, but as I just said: in the last moment the pace wasn't there.

Q: What is the goal for the race on Sunday? Simply to see the chequered flag?

JB: Yes. I've already seen one this season! (laughs) But I wouldn't mind if it could be a bit more than just finishing the race!

Q: What tricks do McLaren and Honda have up their sleeves for something better than an 'also ran' result?

JB: No tricks, just hard work overnight and trying to get the best out of the engine and the package that we have. I still think that we haven't squeezed enough out of what we actually have at our disposal. It will still take some time, but we are already in a state of progressing at more than just 'baby steps'! That is a very positive message.