An emotional Jenson Button says his unexpected run to third position on the grid for his home British Grand Prix would have made his late father John 'very happy' as he made the most of the changeable conditions in qualifying at Silverstone.

In what turned out to be an unpredictable qualifying session defined by intermittent showers, Button very nearly didn't even make it out of Q1 after his best lap time was disallowed for running wide at the final turn, the McLaren driver teetering on the brink in 16th.

However, having survived that, Button progressed through Q2 before making the most of the improved, but still tricky, conditions at the end of Q3 to briefly go quickest before being bumped down to third place at the chequered flag.

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A timely result for the former world champion, competing in his first home race without his father John - who passed away earlier this year -, he says his performance will have had the 'old boy smiling down' on him.

"It was quite an emotional slowing down lap," said Button, who is wearing a commemorative pink helmet this weekend in honour of his father. "Qualifying is qualifying and the race is tomorrow, but when you do a lap you are happy with in front of your home crowd, I think the old boy would be very happy - it would have meant a lot. I have so much support from the fans, it has been overwhelming, a lot of people wearing pink in respect of my old boy. He is definitely smiling down on me."

Looking ahead to the race, Button remains under no illusions that he has the package to convert his second row into a podium challenge in the dry, but has higher hopes if the weather turns again.

"I have made the race easier than previously thought but we have to be realistic," he said. "I want to be upbeat and positive about fighting for a podium, and if it is like today then that is a possibility so long as we make the right calls and strategy, but in a standard dry race it will be very tricky."

Even so, Button is delighted to give British fans something to cheer about on a day that otherwise saw lead hope Lewis Hamilton only manage sixth.

"It is nice in front of the home crowd to qualify well and all the way through qualifying we said the pace was there - not compared to the Mercedes - but compared to everyone else [in the conditions]. When I did my lap Q1 on the option tyre, I made the mistake of losing the rear on the last corner and having my time disallowed and I thought I was going to be out, so to come through in third is a good result.

"We will give 100 per cent and give the maximum out of what we have this weekend so we can have a great result for the British fans."

Button has created a #pinkforpapa hashtag for this weekend and is encouraging fans and those in paddock to wear pink in memory of John Button.