Rubens Barrichello has praised Brawn GP team-mate Jenson Button for the lap that put the Briton on pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix, admitting that he thought that he had been the faster of the pair in the Principality.
Barrichello had shaded the current championship points leader through much of practice and, heading into the final phase of qualifying, definitely appeared to be the better placed in the battle for pole as Button struggled to move away from the foot of the top ten. However, when it came down to getting the most from their mounts in race set-up, the Briton came out on top with a last-ditch lap that not only knocked Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen off pole, but also dislodged Barrichello from the front row. The pair are fuelled to within 0.5kg of each - with Button marginally the lighter - while Raikkonen weighs in a full 3.5kg lighter than the Briton.
"Qualifying went very well, and I had good pace all through - every day, the car has been good," Barrichello admitted, "But, honestly, I thought I had the upper hand on Jenson today. It was going very well and my lap on the end was very good - but that's why I congratulated him. He must have had a fantastic lap as my lap was really good and I am happy with it."
The veteran admitted that there was little left on the table after his effort, pointing out that there wasn't much to choose between his performance on various fuel loads and tyre options.
"There wasn't anything more I could have done," he insisted, "Yeah, you can push a little bit here and there, but I have got to say I am really happy with all the work. I am just sorry that, on my birthday, I didn't get pole position.
"I've had a great Saturday, did everything I had to do in the morning, setting the car up and everything, so I was extremely happy. My fastest lap throughout the weekend is on a used set of tyres, which is quite amazing to be honest with you, so we need to make an exercise to see why the new tyres are not working so much for me. As you could see, I did a 1min 14.8secs and, with fuel in the car, I did a 1min 15.0secs, so I've got to be extremely happy with that.
"I had everything and he did a 15.7 when I did a 15.4. I was expecting someone to be around me and, with the time that Kimi set, I was of course expecting something good, but I never thought Jenson could do a 14.9. It is his fastest lap of the weekend, on the fuel, so it's a pretty amazing lap. As soon as I got out of the car, I asked him how he did it because I've done those laps the whole weekend - but not when it mattered."
Button also conceded that the Brazilian had been the better man until his final qualifying effort.
"I'm very happy for myself and for the whole team - Rubens has been so bloody quick all weekend, which is good for me," he noted, "Having a team-mate who is not pushing you, but is in front of you for the whole weekend, does spur you on. All through the weekend, I have been fighting with Rubens, and Rubens has definitely had the upper hand."
Barrichello had reason to be pleased with his performance for, given the years that he spent with Ferrari, third on the grid still proved to be his best qualifying effort in 17 attempts.
"I tell you, I love this place in qualifying, and today my thought was 'don't leave anything, don't leave even a hair for you to think 'oh, I should have done better'.' Round the Swimming Pool, I almost went flat. It was fantastic, and I'm really proud of what I've achieved today. Unfortunately, it's still a tenth away from pole, but I've left nothing out of my car."