Jenson Button says his lap during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix was his 'best in a long time' despite falling well short of making it through to Q2 during qualifying, before suggesting the improvements of others is making McLaren look slower than it is.
Using Honda's much anticipated upgraded power unit this weekend, McLaren's had urged caution on a noticeable improvement around such a high-speed circuit and those predictions proved correct as both Button and Fernando Alonso emerged just over two seconds slower than the pace-setting, medium shod Mercedes' in Q1.
Frustratingly for Button though, he says he was pleased with the balance of the car, adding that it was the best lap he has managed in the car for some time.
“I actually enjoyed driving it today, all weekend it has been a bit tricky with the rear of the car and entries but qualifying was much better. It's funny because you cross the line and think maybe that lap was good enough to be a lot further up.
“That lap I did was equal to my pole position lap I did here three years ago in 2012. It was the best lap I'd don't in a long time. You have to deal with that, for both of us and the whole team, there is a long way to go before we're competitive but at least the feeling was good in qualifying and it was good to drive.
Reflecting on the engine upgrade itself, Button says he can certainly feel more power, but speculates that part of the reason it looks so far off the pace this weekend is because its closest rival in recent races, Sauber, has benefitted more from its upgrade.
“There is definitely more power with the engine but obviously you always want more than you see and we're still a long way off. It's been hard work to find a balance that's worked. We've taken off more down force, we took it off this morning and the car just didn't work, so I don't think we're running too much down force compared to others, maybe we're not efficient enough.
“I think the problem is that the Sauber, which is the car we are racing, has suddenly got an upgrade of power which is massive, which makes it look worse than it is.”
Button, along with Alonso, will start on the back row after taking a raft of penalties for various power unit component changes. Between the two drivers, they have incurred 105 grid position penalties, though a change in the regulations means this is simply limited to a back row start.