McLaren encountered mixed fortunes during qualifying today. While Jenson Button went through a solid session to post the 7th time, Kevin Magnussen was caught out by the wet track in turn 1 and subsequently crashed out.
The left side of Kevin’s car was quite severely damaged, and will necessitate a chassis and gearbox change for the race. The car will start from the pitlane tomorrow.
After struggling to find a balance to his liking all weekend, Jenson suddenly found his car transformed for qualifying, and revelled in its handling, setting seventh-fastest times in both Q2 and Q3. He will also have the added benefit of starting from the clean side of the grid tomorrow.
Jenson Button, MP4-29-03, 7th: “Until qualifying, it felt like it had been raining on me all weekend! Then, this afternoon, the car felt a lot better than it had in all the other sessions. That was a major positive.
“I think it’s the ‘never give up’ attitude of the guys in the garage: we’d been playing with the set-up all weekend – it’s better now, but there’s still more work needed. Into Q2, we had reasonable pace and I think we did well to take seventh, just a few hundredths behind sixth. Seventh is basically where we are.
“We don’t know what the weather will do tomorrow. In the dry, our long-run pace looks okay, but all the guys ahead of me are very quick, so we’ll see what we can do.
“I’m on the clean side of the grid, so I’ll be hoping for a good start.”
Kevin Magnussen, MP4-29-02, 10th (no time in Q3): “I just hit the wall. The track was much wetter at the first corner than it was at the last corner. As I came out of the final turn, there was full grip, so I braked for Turn One at the normal braking point, but it was much wetter.
“Physically, I’m fine but I’m sad that I didn’t get more out of it. I’m most disappointed for the team, I think we could’ve got another decent qualifying result. Now, we just need to get on with it – starting from the pitlane will make life more difficult, but I’m determined to have a strong race."
Eric Boullier, Racing director, McLaren Mercedes: “While it’s encouraging that Jenson managed to take a useful seventh position on the grid, we’re all very disappointed that Kevin ended his Q3 session in the tyre barriers.
“The track conditions at that particular corner took everyone by surprise, and Kevin was powerless to avoid locking the wheels and hitting the wall. Of course, the good news is that he’s safe and well; the bad news is that his chassis and gearbox are quite significantly damaged, and both will need to be changed this evening.
“As a result, he’ll unfortunately have to start the race from the pitlane. However, I know that Kevin will not deter Kevin from pushing all the way to the finish tomorrow.
“It had been a tricky weekend up until qualifying for Jenson, but everything finally started to come together in Q2 and Q3, which is when it ultimately matters most. It’s a little bit frustrating not to be able to beat both Williams – which I think we had the potential to do today – but he’s well positioned to collect a useful amount of world championship points tomorrow.”