Jenson Button has admitted that he really feared not making it through to the final phase of qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix - and then revealed that he was so on the edge with his final flying lap of the day that he feared ending up in the harbour.

After a quiet Friday, the championship leader picked up the pace through Saturday practice but, having made it comfortably into the second part of knock-out qualifying, struggled to break away from the foot of the top ten, and appeared vulnerable to any improvement from the drivers beneath him.

Button's Q2 plight was perhaps aided by the absence of BMW Sauber, Toyota and Lewis Hamilton - all of whom had surprisingly bowed out in Q1 - leaving the likes of Toro Rosso, Force India and Nelson Piquet Jr as the main threats to his position, and he eventually went through in eighth spot.

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"In Q2, I struggled with a bit of understeer, and was behind another car on my [flying] lap, which cost me some time, so I was a little bit scared that I wasn't going to make it through Q2," he confessed, "For sure, I pushed harder in Q3 than I did in Q2, and the fuel effect wasn't anywhere near like I thought it was going to be. I was able to brake in similar places with higher fuel as I was with lower fuel, so I don't quite understand that. I just pushed that little bit harder. If I was 95 per cent in Q2, I was 100 per cent in Q3. I couldn't have got anything else out of it."

Such was the Briton's last-ditch effort on a circuit he has admitted doesn't suit his smooth style that he admitted that he was running on the ragged edge at times.

"I had been nowhere near Rubens through the Swimming Pool, but I drove as fast as I could through there and, yeah, I thought I was going to end up in Flavio [Briatore]'s boat - which he would not have been very happy with," he joked, "It was pretty much on the edge, and I really thought I was going to be in the harbour, but it was a good lap and I really did get everything out of the car."

Button was quick to pay tribute to Brawn's BGP 001 for the part it played in getting him to the front of the field at the circuit where it matters most, revealing that, on day one of the meeting, things did not look too promising.

"l was a long way off in P1 on Thursday and really didn't know where we were," he admitted, "I had very low grip, but worked with the balance a lot and, all the way through the weekend, we just improved little by little. That is the great thing with this car - if I was driving last year's car and started Thursday as we were, then I would have massively struggled. But this car listens to changes. It is so important and I really feel at home in this car. Even when things are bad, you know you can make them better.

"I was really struggling, just having no front end on the car in the high-speed corners and, a little bit, at the low speed apexes, so we changed a few things and it has improved the car dramatically, especially on the prime tyre. I couldn't get the prime tyre to work all weekend, and was a second off Rubens on it, so I'm so happy to be on pole."