Jenson Button has revealed his concerns that if the heavens do open over the Sepang International Circuit during Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, then Brawn GP could find itself at a sudden disadvantage – as the team has yet to conduct any wet running with the car at all.
In soaring to the top spot in qualifying by just shy of a tenth of a second from Toyota rival Jarno Trulli, current Formula 1 World Championship leader Button secured the first back-to-back pole positions of his 156-race grand prix career, and he admitted afterwards that he had expected the competition to be tougher. Should it rain on race day, he may well find that it is.
“For sure I would rather it be dry tomorrow,” he reflected, “but with the weather here you never know. We thought it was going to rain for qualifying, so we will wait and see. We've got to do a lot of thinking overnight to put a plan together if it is wet, because we obviously haven't run this car yet in the wet, so yeah, it's going to be interesting.
“I think when we work with the balance of this car we can get it to be as competitive in the wet as it is in the dry. I think that goes for any car on the grid, but when you don't have any practice with the car it's very difficult to know how it's going to react to the wet conditions [and] the slower pace in the corners.
“The biggest difficulty is trying to get the aero balance right; with last year's car we had to take ten turns of the front wing out of it to balance it in the wet compared to the dry, so it's going to be different and we don't know how different. It's going to be tough but we will make the best of it, I'm sure.”
It is just that type of conviction that saw both Button and the ex-Honda F1 outfit not only survive an incredibly uncertain winter, but indeed prosper from it – and arrive Down Under in Melbourne just over a week ago and blow the opposition into the weeds. That dominance shows few signs of abating anytime soon, and if he confessed to having struggled in practice in Sepang, the 29-year-old was nonetheless full of praise for his team for having performed 'a big turnaround' in time for the all-important qualifying hour.
“Yesterday I was really struggling with the balance of the car,” he related. “I had a lot of rear locking and instability, and that it is not my forté really. I find it difficult to drive around, so we had to work on the car a lot overnight and it has improved really well and I feel very comfortable in it now. All the way through qualifying the car was working well.
“Looking at yesterday's times, the Ferrari to us seemed the quickest car. You're not going to believe me if I say that I didn't think we'd be here, but yesterday we were surprised at the pace of some of the cars, one being the Red Bull and one being the Ferrari. We didn't think we could do those times.
“We just turned it around I suppose; it is a big turnaround today, and I am obviously very happy with that. Tomorrow – as always here – is going to be hot race. It is not just the sun; it is the humidity, and you are just pouring with sweat. I have got a cool jacket which has been helping me; obviously I can't wear it in the race as it is too heavy, but I feel pretty good actually in the car. I don't feel like I am struggling too much in the heat. It makes it exciting for tomorrow.”