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Jenson Button Q&A: McLaren faster than qualifying suggests

16 Apr 2016

Pushing to reach Q3 for the first time this season, Jenson Button's chances were scuppered by a late red flag in Q2. Despite this setback, he remains optimistic that the McLaren is quick enough round the Shanghai International Circuit to score points on Sunday...

Q: Jenson, how was it going? In Q1 it looked pretty promising - but it didn’t last…

Jenson Button: Yes, it did. We were going out in Q2 looking how it was going - just as you do with the old qualifying format - but the second run didn’t work out. Like a few other people we got unlucky. Today the qualifying format that we had at the first two races would have been better for us! (laughs)

Q: You all made it clear that Q3 was the target and then the red flag comes out…

JB: As I just said we’ve been a bit unlucky, because we were running the used tyres and had saved the new ones for the second run - that didn’t happen! One day I will have a super qualifying again - unfortunately not today. Actually McLaren hasn’t been in Q3 since 2014, but in the next few races it will happen - we will get much better and hopefully luckier!

Q: Q1 was also red flagged and delayed by 20 minutes because there was a 'puddle' on the straight. Was it too dangerous?

JB: Nothing changed over the 20 minutes. Yes, it was a little bit scary on slick tyres and I think that a lot of people kept their DRS closed - that’s also what we did.

Q: There were people saying that here are the best drivers in the world and they cannot drive through a puddle…

JB: …you don’t have any control of the car in such a situation.

Q: What can you expect in the race then? Are you optimistic?

JB: Well, in Q1 I was fourth quickest. Of course that was not the real thing, but there was still time to find on the track, so that should hold some chances for us tomorrow. The wind plays a big role here. If it’s a head wind on the back straight we very likely will see a lot of overtaking in the race, which is good. The tyres are still tricky. On Friday we were somehow floating around because there was no real grip and the tyre temperature was very high, and that could also be the case tomorrow. So to be fair, being just outside of the top ten isn’t that horrific as we now have enough tyres and with three tyre compounds things will get rather interesting.

Q: Does the team have a good understanding of the tyres? They have been a bit of an issue over the last two days…

JB: Yes, we have a good understanding - and also a good understanding of what other people will do as well. But let’s see tomorrow.

Q: When you look back at last year there was massive frustration because you were not fast enough. Today you looked faster than your qualifying position would suggest- is that so?

JB: Yes, definitely. And that gives a good feeling, even if starting from P13 is not really what I was looking for. (laughs)

Q: You are the best-qualified Briton on the grid. Does that bode well for points?

JB: Ha, even if they [Hamilton] start a lap behind me they will probably beat me! (laughs) This [Mercedes] car is so quick! But yes, my agenda tomorrow is to grab some points and if things come a bit our way we should be knocking on the top ten. I will do my best to make it happen.