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F1 Bahrain GP: Button: It was a different car in Q2...

Jenson Button is forced to admit that rookie team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne 'did a good job' after an unexplained balance switch leaves him behind the Belgian in Bahrain F1 qualifying.

Jenson Button reckons he had a chance to put McLaren into Q3 at the Bahrain Grand Prix, so lining up behind rookie team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne in the middle of the pack came as a disappointment for the Briton.

While he insists that he was never likely to repeat the third place he achieved in second practice at the same time on Friday evening, Button was left to rue a dramatic change in the handling of his MP4-31 between Q1 and Q2 that left him struggling to 14th place while his new Belgian colleague survived to take an impressive twelfth.

"I don't think the Friday pace was really going to be there today, [partly] because everyone turns up their engines from Friday to Saturday, but we definitely expected to be closer to Q3," Button lamented, "I think, if the balance worked like it did in Q1, there was a chance of being in Q3 because we were pretty close to it then.

"The car's been really good all weekend. I've had a reasonable balance, mostly struggling with a bit of understeer but quite happy with it, but, on the last run, for no reason at all, I had the complete opposite, massive oversteer… I don't know if it's the circuit or what, but I felt it as soon as I exited the pits… It felt like a different car. Q1 was pretty much what I expected, but my Q2 time wasn't much better than my Q1 time…"

Naturally, Vandoorne's performance, just two days after stepping into the cockpit as replacement for the injured Fernando Alonso, became a topic of the day, and Button had to admit that the rookie had done a decent job.

"[Stoffel] has done a good job and I haven't done a good job," the veteran reflected, "He's very competitive, he's quick, he's won here before, so he's proven how good he is around a place like this - and he's also done a lot of testing with us and proven his speed, so yeh, he did a good job…"

Asked whether the Belgian's performance heaped pressure on his own shoulders, Button insisted that nothing had changed based on one qualifying session.

"There's always pressure that you put on yourself," he explained, "I've always had competitive team-mates, like with Fernando being my team-mate the last two years, so nothing's different. The boy did a good job today - he got it right and I definitely didn't in Q2, but that's the way it is sometimes…"

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April 03, 2016 3:55 AM

How is it that JB is so consistent and reliable on race day but in other sessions his pace is mega one lap and way off the next. I love the guy but unlike Alonso and seemingly Vandoorne he's forever complaining about setup... just adapt and drive around setup issues like your teammates man!

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