Button: We were just out of luck this afternoon
8 June 2013
Jenson Button stopped short of blaming himself for failing to make it through to the final phase of qualifying at the Canadian Grand Prix, preferring to reflect on McLaren's general misfortune in a tricky wet-weather session.
The Briton was in the thick of an ever-changing order centred somewhere between fifth spot and the bottom of the Q2 drop zone when the red flags flew for Felipe Massa's accident at turn three but, despite having just two minutes to complete the session, somehow misjudged his run to the line to start his flying lap and was denied the chance to improve on 14th place.
Button was clearly trying to engineer himself some space as the pack all returned to the track en masse, but lingered a little long as he negotiated the final chicane and had the frustration of seeing the lighting gantry switch from red to green before he could start the clocks.
“Today's qualifying was one of those sessions where it either all falls into place for you – or it doesn't,” he insisted afterwards, “And we were just out of luck this afternoon.
“We encountered yellow flags, a red flag and, when the session restarted, I crossed the line about half a second too late to start my final flying lap.”
Admitting that making it into the top ten may have been beyond the MP4-28's capabilities anyway, Button reflected more positively on McLaren's earlier performances in the tricky conditions.
“We weren't as competitive as we thought we'd be [in qualifying], and 14th obviously isn't the place where I want to start, but the good news is that you can overtake around here,” he noted, no doubt recalling his march from last to victory in similar circumstances two years ago, “A race in mixed conditions tomorrow would be good for us.”
Highlighting the team's ongoing struggle for performance, team-mate Sergio Perez also failed to progress beyond Q2, and echoed Button's feelings after claiming a spot one row ahead of the Briton.
“That was a very tricky session,” he sighed, “It was difficult to make the most of things, and, in the end, luck just wasn't with us. The red flag at the end of Q2 affected me just as I was about to set a good time. Then, with only two minutes of the session remaining, I didn't get a run without traffic and, as a result, I couldn't get my tyres up to temperature.
“The fact that some of the others managed to improve was frustrating, but that's racing - sometimes you get it right, and sometimes you get it wrong. It's a shame, because I think we had the pace to get into Q3 today.”
With Perez insisting that the quest for points is 'not over', team boss Martin Whitmarsh could be in for an exciting afternoon on Sunday, particularly as he too agreed that the timing of the flags in Q2 prevented either driver from showing his true potential, costing McLaren a top ten start for the first time in 2013.
“We'd just switched both drivers to their second set of intermediate tyres when they encountered yellow flags, and then the red, so we couldn't really get the quick laps we needed.
“But, in Jenson and Checo, we've got a pair of fantastic racing drivers who'll most certainly be giving their all tomorrow. The unpredictable weather conditions show no sure sign of abating, and we'll be pushing to maximise every available opportunity in a race that's destined to be long, hard and unpredictable. There's still a lot to play for.”