Jenson Button has admitted that missing a chunk of free practice on day one of the Monaco Grand Prix has left him playing catch-up on the majority of the field ahead of the most important qualifying session of the season.
While McLaren is not expected to threaten the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari for the leading grid positions – and might not have enough in the armoury to challenge Red bull, Williams or Lotus for the top ten unless it rains again – Button says that his task has been made harder still by starting Thursday on the sidelines and then being hampered by a brake temperature issue later in the day.
“We lost quite a lot of running, a new tyre run in P1 and a lot of laps in P1, so that was a shame but it is what it is, we've got to deal with what we have,” he sighed, “You always want to run here as much as you can. Monaco is very unique - it's a unique circuit these days, somewhere you need to build up. You can't just go straight out and go flat-out like most of the circuits that have a lot of run-offs. You need a lot of laps and I didn't get a lot of laps, so Saturday morning is going to be very important for me.”
With the onset of rain less than half-an-hour into Thursday afternoon's session, few of the drivers got to try Pirelli's latest supersoft tyre, and Button expects to find a lot of cars on track when he is trying to hone his MP4-30 in FP3.
“It's going to be a busy day,” he acknowledged, “P3 is going to be very busy because we didn't run any of the supersofts today. So it's going to be a busy morning and an important morning as, then, we're in to qualifying, so there's no rest for the wicked - but I'm looking forward to it.”
Button was slightly more optimistic when discussing the initial set-up of his car, even though he admitted that later running in the wet was probably only useful in terms of Honda learning more about the harvesting and deployment functions of its engine.
“I think, in terms of balance, it's alright,” he revealed, “There's some work to do and areas we know we can just improve with a switch change, so it's not too bad.
“In the dry it was okay but, in the wet, I've got some problems I need to sort out. [Grip-wise], the first two laps there's no grip at all - you're skating around and it's like we don't have tyre blankets. It's not easy but only takes four or five laps and your quickest lap is normally your last - if that's lap ten or lap 15, that is normally your quickest lap, even fuel corrected.
“Considering the running I had, I'm reasonably happy with how the car feels, but we'll see what happens in qualifying when we're all giving it our maximum and we'll see how we fare.”