McLaren-Honda will be better in race trim – Button

Jenson Button was an early victim of Q2 this afternoon, concluding qualifying in P13 without bothering an attempt to improve on his time.

The McLaren driver admitted the result was a tad better than expected, but still believes more speed will be required from the MP4-31 for him to move up the ranks.

“The car didn’t feel too bad but I think we all struggled with tyre temperatures this afternoon,” Button said.

“I quite enjoyed driving but we just weren’t quick enough. Winter testing had been good in terms of mileage but pretty poor in terms of performance so this is a good step forward.

“The only right mess was in Q1 when the four slower cars were calmly being parked and we wanted to have a quick tyre change and return to the track. Apart from that there were no issues.”

Button offered his view on the new qualifying format which, while perhaps less critical than some, echoed most of what others had to say.

“I don’t think qualifying is bad but it’s not too good either. The only thing is in Q2 we probably would have run at the end, instead of the beginning, with the new tyres.

“But then I watched Q3 from outside the car…I think I was watching qualifying. I was too busy watching numbers rather than cars.

“If we are finding it confusing and we have known about it for a while and we have gone through it to make sure we haven’t made mistakes, I think for the fans it is way too confusing right now.

“Hopefully they will learn or have learnt already and they will be more prepared for the next one, but from the fans point of view, it doesn’t seem to be too positive.”

The 2009 world champion isn’t making any bold predictions for tomorrow, and will manage what hand he is dealt. But he does believe however that the McLaren-Honda could fair better in race trim.

“Hopefully we’ll be alright tomorrow but no one really knows as we haven’t really done any long runs. Today wasn’t so bad in terms of pace and we’re a bit further up than I expected.

“I think we have a better race car than a qualifying car, a change around from last year as we have almost as good a deployment than everyone else, so on a track like Bahrain that will be a great advantage.

“Here it won’t make so much of a difference. Tomorrow there’s a Williams right in front of us but we won’t be racing it, but we’re positively surprised by how close we are to the Williams and Force India. Hopefully we’ll be able to gain some places tomorrow.”

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