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Button left regretting wasted Q3 run

9 June 2012

Jenson Button never looked entirely happy with his performance in qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal on Saturday, a consequence of missing so much time on Friday with technical problems.

"Jenson, having lost a lot of track time through no fault of his own yesterday, was always going to be playing catch-up today," admitted McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh. "In the circumstances, therefore, he did very well to get through to Q3 this afternoon, especially as it was so close at the top of the time-sheets."

Having got through to Q3, however, Button and the team needed to decide what to do in that final ten minute period: stay in the garage, or try and set a time and move forward from the probably tenth place on the grid?

"For Q3 we were a bit stuck for tyre choice," admitted Button. "Used options would have probably kept us tenth, so we decided to roll the dice and run new primes. It was a tough decision, and, with the benefit of hindsight, we probably shouldn't have run at all."

Whitmarsh had come to the same conclusion.

"He'd used up all his new option tyres, which meant there was little point in his re-using one of his already-used sets of options in Q3 since doing so would have been unlikely to have afforded him the opportunity to improve his grid position significantly over the P10 that was already in the bag by virtue of having made it through to Q3," said Whitmarsh. "So instead he did just one run in Q3 on new Primes, and will therefore start tomorrow's race on those Primes.

"I suppose you could say it's a slightly adventurous strategy – but then, given Jenson's troubled running so far, an adventurous strategy was always going to be what was required for him here today," he added. "And, as we all know, having watched with fearful thrill his wondrous run from stone-last to triumphant first here last year, there's probably no-one in the world better able to exploit an adventurous strategy at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve than Jenson Button."

That famous victory had been thanks to a little help from the wet weather in 2011, but Sunday is looking dry - and hot. Button still believes that could hand him a critical advantage on race day, however.

"Tenth isn't the best place to start, but it looks like being even hotter tomorrow – probably the hottest race of the year so far – so it may well throw up a few surprises for everyone," he said.

However he admitted that because of the lack of set-up time he'd had this weekend, he was still having problems with braking on Saturday - one set of option tyres was ripped apart with a huge lock-up in qualifying - and this was going to make his race difficult to say the least.

"It's going to be difficult to make any manoeuvres tomorrow," he confessed. "I don't even know if it would have been any better if we'd had all of Friday [to practice.]"

He added that it didn't help that everyone was likely to go for a safe and conservative one- or two-stop strategy on Sunday, which meant that even starting on the prime tyres where everyone ahead would be on options would likely not make much of a difference.

Even so, he insisted: "I still think we can still have a good race, even from the fifth row.


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