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Japanese Grand Prix: Button relishing Suzuka challenge

With the possible exception of his home circuit at Silverstone, it's clear that there's no place on earth Jenson Button enjoys racing at more than Suzuka - even if it's proving a challenge.
Tenth place on the grid for the Japanese Grand Prix might not be much of a breakthrough for Jenson Button and McLaren this weekend, but that didn't mean Button's enjoyment of one of his favourite circuits in the world was in any way diminished.

"In Q3 at Suzuka you want to go out and have fun, which is exactly what I did. I couldn't have gone any quicker," he said after qualifying. "I did three laps in Q2 and Q3 that were almost identical, so I think P10 was as good as our car could get here today.

"There wasn't any more time left out on the track, but it was fun trying to find it!" he beamed.

Arguably the team would have been better off keeping Button in the garage for Q3, as he would still have claimed tenth on the grid while also picking up the flexibility of a free choice of tyre compounds for the start of the race, instead of now being committed to starting on the options.

"Jenson got through to Q3 reasonably comfortably," explained McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh. "Which was why, especially as the upper midfield is so close and competitive these days, he elected to run in Q3 in an effort to improve his grid position for the race.

"In the end he just failed to do that, but we believe that it was the right decision to give it a go even if hindsight now informs us that the P10 he'd already secured was in fact the best we could have managed here today," Whitmarsh continued.

"Having said that, Jenson loves Suzuka, won brilliantly here two years ago, and invariably races very well here. No-one is expecting him to deliver a repeat victory tomorrow, but you can be well sure that he'll be putting in his usual measured yet forceful performance in an effort steadily to climb the leaderboard in the cut and thrust of tomorrow's 53-lap race," he said.

Sergio Perez was less happy with how the session turned out after he missed progressing into Q3 by a little over a tenth of a second.

"It was frustrating to miss out on Q3 by the smallest of margins," Perez agreed. "It was extremely close: my first set of tyres in Q2 were the Options I'd run during Q1 when we'd aborted because of the red flag. That meant my reference for my second Q2 run wasn't ideal as I didn't really know where the track was going."

Even so, starting from 11th place on the grid - just one position behind his McLaren team mate - was a significant achievement for the young Mexican after missing out on so much practice after an early accident in the afternoon session when he took a heavy impact into the barriers at Spoon after just eight laps.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
(L to R): Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) McLaren Chief Executive Officer with Adrian Fernandez (MEX) and Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren.
Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) McLaren Chief Executive Officer. 06.02.2013.
Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren. 06.02.2013.
Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28. 06.02.2013.
Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28. 06.02.2013.
Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren after stopping on the circuit. 07.02.2013.
Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren. 07.02.2013.
Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-28. 07.02.2013.
20.10.2016 - Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM09
20.10.2016 - Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren Test and Reserve Driver and Paul Di Resta (GBR), Williams F1 Team, Reserve driver
20.10.2016 - Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-31
20.10.2016 - Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM09 with a biplane
20.10.2016 - Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM09 with a biplane
20.10.2016 - Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM09 with a biplane
20.10.2016 - Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM09 with a biplane
20.10.2016 - Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM09 with a biplane
20.10.2016 - Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM09
20.10.2016 - Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM09

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