Button backs qualifying postponement decision
16 March 2013
McLaren's Jenson Button backed the race officials' call to postpone the remainder of qualifying for the 2013 F1 Australian Grand Prix after rain his the Albert Park circuit on Saturday afternoon.
"I believe the FIA had no choice," said the former world champion. "It was the right call to postpone Q2 and Q3 until tomorrow, for safety reasons.
"When the FIA does something good in terms of safety we're very happy," he continued. "And then when they do something wrong when it's too wet we're unhappy - it's a really difficult call for the FIA."
"The conditions were becoming too dangerous, in terms of low visibility as well as low grip," agreed Button's new team mate at McLaren, Sergio Perez, who had been impressed by the way that his new squad had reacted to the chaotic circumstances as stormy showers swept over Melbourne.
"I think our guys did a fantastic job. They kept calm and focused throughout the whole session, even in the gaps and delays, and as a result Jenson and I were always confident that everything was totally under control," said the young Mexican driver. "That was a really dramatic qualifying session, full of suspense and excitement!"
Both drivers are now keenly aware that they will have to adjust their race day preparations on Sunday to accommodate for the delayed Q2 and Q3 sessions, which will be run from 11am local time (midnight GMT).
"We'll have to follow a really tight schedule tomorrow, including a very short turn-around between qualifying and race, and that'll be tough for everyone," said Perez.
"Deferring the completion of qualifying until Sunday morning means that I won't now be able to go for coffee on the beach!" joked Button, explaining that it was his traditional pre-race routine in Melbourne. "But, you know, maybe that's not such a bad thing, because it means I'll be able to keep my Sunday morning Melbourne coffee as a lucky charm.
"I don't think we'll be quick enough to win here tomorrow, so my coffee-then-win record here will remain intact," he explained. "The ride's a little bit better but I think we've lucked in to this weather a little bit. I think we were quicker in these conditions - not on the wet but on the intermediate tyre - and I think judging it right has made a big difference to us and when we put our lap time in.
"It's going to be a tricky day tomorrow because it looks like it's going to be sunny but we'll do the best we can," he added.
Perez agreed with his team mate's downbeat assessment of McLaren's current standing going into the first race of the season.
"Tomorrow may be a tricky day for us because our car isn't yet as competitive as it'll become, but our aim will be to score points with both cars so as to keep in touch with the teams who currently appear to be a little way ahead of us in terms of performance," Perez said.
And in the meantime, as the rain continued to fall in Albert Park on Saturday evening, Button's sympathies lay with the fans who had stuck it out on the wind- and rain-lashed grandstands without recourse to the cost team garages that he and Perez enjoyed.
"It was even worse for the fans," said Button when asked about how the disruption of the stop-start qualifying session had been for him. "[They've] been waiting excitedly for qualifying all day long and then had to sit in the pouring rain with no on-track action to entertain them.
"I'm very sorry for them, because the fans are what all sport is ultimately all about, but I hope we can make it up to them tomorrow by putting on a really exciting race."