Jenson Button admits his experience and 'a lot of risk' around a wet but drying track was behind his surprise run to a net third position in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix.
Making his first Q3 appearance since the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Button took full advantage of the inclement weather conditions – which saw Q3 begin wet but end almost entirely dry – but ensuring he was the last driver to make it across the line at the end.
Indeed, with Button declaring he has never seen a circuit dry so quickly, his advantageous track positioning would see him place the McLaren-Honda fifth on the timesheets. This becomes third once Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel's grid penalties are enforced.
A result to savour for the Briton in what has been a difficult season compared with team-mate Fernando Alonso, former champion Button says his driving style helped him get the best from the MP4-31.
“I'm P5 at the moment, so P3 is great and I'm going to enjoy this moment… I always love those conditions and I was just trying to save a bit for the last lap – and I did! It's lucky there was no yellow flag, I took a lot of risk and it worked out today. Other times it hasn't, but it did today and I'll take it when I can.
“I've never seen a circuit dry so quickly. You really had to be thinking on your toes, feeling every corner through your bum, but those are conditions I really like and I can usually get the best out of the car.
“[Experience] is some of it, but some of it is the way I drive, it's just different. There are conditions when I can't get the best out of the car, and there are conditions when I can because of the driving style I have. I feel, corner by corner, the grip I have when I enter the corner, rather than using memory from the last lap. I'm really happy, and it's great to be starting third.”
Despite the qualifying boost, Button is under no illusions about McLaren's pace in normal conditions, but feels the result is deserved given the car's rate of improvements.
“I think we understand that we're not this fast, we're not P5 on the grid. We got it together today, and everything went our way, so we're happy… I love these conditions and, if I'd ended up P10, I still would have enjoyed it.
“We've been very aggressive with the car, getting some front end in. We were never going to qualifying fifth in completely dry conditions, but in these conditions we could and it's exciting to know that we were P2 on the wets as well. “