McLaren duo upbeat for Sunday
TYRE TROUBLES: McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton (left) and Jenson Button discuss their poor grip at Silverstone while operations director Simon Roberts takes note. Image: AFP
Author: Josh Collings
SILVERSTONE, England – McLaren’s Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were optimistic about their chances in Sunday's 2012 British F1 GP despite struggling for grip during qualifying on Saturday.
The McLaren duo, renowned for their wet-weather driving, had hoped to challenge for pole but neither was able to maximise his car's potential; Button will start 16th, Hamilton eighth after the rain-hit qualifying shambles.
18TH FOR BUTTON
Button, 32, plagued by poor qualifying results so far in 2012, failed to get his tyres up to temperature as rain began to fall during the first of the three quali sessions and wound up almost a second off the pace required to avoid the cut.
The Englishman, who has never been on the podium at Silverstone, qualified 18th but gained two places because Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg was given a five-place penalty for changing his gearbox and Jean-Eric Vergne of Toro Rosso was demoted 10 places for dangerous driving at the European GP two weeks earlier.
Despite his result, the 2009 Drivers' champion insisted that, with a new set of tyres, he had more than enough pace on his final run but was forced to slow down because of yellow flags and rain that had accumulated on sections of the track – things that, of course, affected all the other drivers as well.
"It felt completely different (on the second set)," he said. "I came out of the pits and could actually get heat into the tyres straight away and it felt good, whereas with the first set I came out of the pits and had front shuddering and just couldn't get the fronts up to temperature. The story of my year, really.
"I gained almost 1.7sec according to my dash compared to the previous lap time which would not only have got me in but given us the quickest lap. Pity, it just wasn't meant to be."
'NO PROBLEM SUNDAY'
Button was disappointed with his performance in front of his home crowd but was optimistic about the race. "I'd rather have put on a much better show but not getting heat into the fronts is the story of my year.
"I know I can drive a racing car in the wet so it shouldn't be a problem on Sunday."
His English partner Lewis Hamilton also struggled with tyre issues. "It was difficult, it always is qualifying in the wet, but we really struggled. For some reason the tyres wouldn't switch on in Q3.
"The extremes (tyres) worked really well then I came in because I thought it was drying and though intermediates would give us the best grip and I was just sliding like crazy.”
He was convinced his qualifying result did not reflect his car's potential pace and was confident he could challenge the front-runners on Sunday.
"From eighth, everything is still possible," he grinned.