He might have endured a difficult day himself during qualifying for this weekend's German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring – the tenth outing on the F1 2011 World Championship calendar – but Jenson Button insists he can take encouragement from the blistering form displayed by McLaren-Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Having struggled on Friday with a KERS Hybrid failure and problems with an experimental exhaust on his MP4-26, Button looked to be on the road to recovery with the fifth-fastest time in FP3 on Saturday morning, but after safely negotiating his way through to the top ten shoot-out in qualifying, the British star subsequently had no answer to the pace of the dominant Red Bulls or the Ferraris – or even Hamilton.
Battling against frustrating grip issues, the 31-year-old ultimately wound up just seventh in Q3, more than a second adrift of front row-sitter Hamilton – but looking ahead to the race, he is adamant that there are many reasons to remain optimistic.
“My car felt pretty good this morning, but this afternoon during qualifying, I couldn't find enough grip out there on either the 'Prime' or the 'Option' tyre,” Button reported. “We'll look into it this evening to better understand what happened.
“However, Lewis drove a brilliant lap to be second on the grid, so congratulations to him. Actually, his pace is encouraging for me, too, because it shows there's more speed in the car if only we can find it. Also, yesterday showed that our long-run pace is pretty good, so that's encouraging, too.
“When you consider that I've had a rather troubled couple of days, I suppose P7 is a reasonable platform from which to try to score as many world championship points as possible during the race tomorrow. As always here at the Nürburgring, there's a possibility of rain – and I've had success in changeable weather conditions this year – but come rain or shine, I'll be approaching the race really positively.”
“Jenson had some reliability niggles yesterday, but was much happier this morning in FP3,” concurred McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh. “In qualifying this afternoon, however, he struggled for grip, but still qualified seventh. This evening, we'll analyse what happened to him, the better to optimise his race strategy for tomorrow.
“Undoubtedly, he'd prefer to have qualified further up the grid, but we know how combative and canny a racer he can be, and he's therefore well capable of scoring a lot of world championship points tomorrow.”