Jenson Button has said his McLaren is the best it has been all season following his podium finish today in Belgium.
Button, who had it all to do after a 'miscommunication' on Saturday meant he missed Q3 and only qualified 13th, eventually battled through and finished third, just 9.6 seconds off the winner.
However speaking at the finish he explained it was by no means an easy run given the drama at the first corner.
“It wasn't as simple as just going from 13th to third today,” Button reflected. “At the start, somebody hit me at the rear and damaged a rear-wing endplate. At the exit of Turn One, there was debris everywhere, and somebody else's front wing went through my front wing and sliced my right-side mirror off. I also had to make an early pitstop, so it was hardly perfect!
“The team had a look at the data and saw that the damage was manageable, so I held on for a few more laps in order to make the strategy work. Then, after that, I drove flat-out to the end of the race.
“I think everybody had an issue with the front-left tyre, so it was tricky to know when to push. But my pace was pretty good considering the damage we had, and I really enjoyed attacking and passing people.
“Our car is now the best it's been all year, and I feel better than I ever have in F1. We just need to stop the little mistakes from happening so that we can win even more races. Hopefully, we can go out and fight for the win in Monza.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh meanwhile reckoned Button could possibly have won again, had it not be for the issues in qualifying: “Jenson drove a dazzlingly impressive race today – in fact I'd say without any doubt whatsoever that he was the man of the match,” Whitmarsh added.
“To start from P13, then to lose a front wing and drop back to P19, and then fight all the way back to P3 at the chequered flag, on the most challenging circuit in modern-day F1... well, all I can say is that it was the kind of performance that marks out a true champion.
“In particular, to hunt down and pass Fernando [Alonso] like that...again, I thought that was very, very, very impressive.
“But for our unfortunate misunderstanding in qualifying yesterday, I feel sure that he would have been able to mount a truly formidable challenge for outright victory here.”