Jenson Button believes McLaren are looking in 'very good shape' for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.
Button qualified fifth today for the fifth round in the F1 2011 World Championship, fractionally behind his team-mate, Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso. Indeed less than 0.035 seconds separated the three world champions and Button felt slightly unfortunate not to end up third.
Despite that disappointment though, Button is optimistic he can do well in the race: “I feel that I did a good lap, so I'm happy with that; my car got better and better throughout the session – I was only three-hundredths slower than Lewis. I was a bit unlucky not to be third, then Fernando got between us as well, so you can see how close it is out there,” he reflected.
“One major positive [though] is that, like Lewis, I'll be starting on the clean side of the grid [now].
“Another is that, also like Lewis, I've got two sets of [Option] tyres that have only done one lap and another set that's brand new – that's going to be key tomorrow.
“Having your tyres in good condition makes such a difference – so I think we're looking in very good shape.
“There's a big difference between the Option and the Prime here, so there'll be some different strategies tomorrow. We'll be looking at the strategy tonight and I'm sure we can make the harder tyre work for us too.”
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh meanwhile concurred that decision to save tyres could prove pivotal: “We wanted to come through qualifying having retained one set of Option tyres for both our drivers, as did Red Bull, and it was for that reason that we were determined to tackle Q1 on Prime tyres,” he explained.
“There's a big speed differential between Options and Primes here in Barcelona, so most teams had no choice other than to use Options in Q1, for fear of not making it through to Q2. Fortunately, by contrast, like Red Bull, we were able to conserve our Options.
“The final result at the end of Q3 was P3 for Lewis and P5 for Jenson – in other words good grid slots on the clean side of the track for both our drivers.
“In actual fact they may have been a little quicker had they gone out when it was less breezy, and had we been able to get our KERS Hybrid up to optimal operating temperature; but I don't think we'd have been quite as quick as the Red Bulls.
“Even so, we're usually a little closer to the Red Bulls' pace in race trim than we are in qualifying, and we've got two brilliant racers in Lewis and Jenson, and as I say they'll start from the clean side; so, all in all, let's just say that we're looking forward to an exciting race.”