Jenson Button was disappointed following qualifying for the F1 2011 British Grand Prix today, although he felt fifth wasn't too bad considering how McLaren seemed to come out worse following late changes to the rules on engines.
Although it now looks like the matter might be resolved for the next race, with the FIA set to drop its ban on off-throttle blown diffusers providing there is unanimous agreement [see separate story - click here
], that will come as scant consolation to Button, who was hoping to perform on home soil and get onto the podium at this event for the very first time.
“Today was a bit of a topsy-turvy day. The balance of our car wasn't great, and it's always difficult when you find out at the last minute what you're running: it isn't a matter of a mere flick of a switch to change things,” Button explained.
“For some teams, the tightening of the regulations helped; but it hurt others. So I guess fifth place feels just about okay after what we've been through in the past few days. Hopefully, we can still take the fight to the guys in front at our home grand prix, and give the famous Silverstone crowd something to shout about.”
Team-mate Lewis Hamilton meanwhile struggled even more in the sister car and while he did get through to the shoot-out, in the end he had to settle for a lowly tenth place on the grid.
“I enjoyed the changeable weather conditions today, but it's disappointing to have ended up so far behind,” Hamilton added. “For Q3, we fitted a used set of Options for our first run when the others ran new tyres, and that hurt our performance. Then, when we fitted new tyres for the final run, it started raining so I couldn't improve my time.
“I think there are a couple of guys in front of me who ought to be slower than me, so I'll do my best to make progress in the early laps even though overtaking here is difficult. I hope we can still have an exciting race, but it'll be tricky. I guess I'll be hoping for rain tomorrow to increase my chances of getting a good result.
“Nevertheless, the fans here are the best in the world – they're sensational in fact – and they'll spur me on in the race. I really hope I can do something special for them tomorrow.”
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh was similarly frustrated: “Clearly, we'd intended to qualify better than fifth and 10th for our home grand prix, so inevitably today's qualifying session was a disappointing one,” he continued. “It's been a difficult day, blighted by a lot of to-ing and fro-ing in relation to the regulations, and compromised by equally changeable weather conditions.
“That combination made things difficult for everyone, and the shape of tomorrow's grid was always likely to be tricky to predict as a result.
“But tomorrow is what really matters, and in Jenson and Lewis we've got two of the most skilful and most combative racers in the sport today. I know how dearly they'd love to be able to put on a good show in front of the most knowledgeable and most supportive spectators in F1, and you can be absolutely certain that they'll be giving it 100 per cent as soon as the five red lights go out on the startline gantry at 1.00pm tomorrow – and so will everyone else at McLaren.”