A damp track after a rain shower heading into turn one at the Hungaroring ultimately cost Kevin Magnussen a top ten start for the Hungarian Grand Prix, but his McLaren-Mercedes team-mate Jenson Button will start seventh.
Button was happy with his qualifying effort after admitting struggling for pace and balance all through practice, so to qualify seventh felt like a good result for the Briton. He praised his mechanics in the garage for never giving up, and feels a good haul of points is possible on Sunday.
“Until qualifying, it felt like it had been raining on me all weekend,” said Button. “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.”
Team-mate Magnussen was looking strong for a good qualifying but ended the session in the wall at turn one as the rain arrived, catching the young Dane out. Unfortunately for the Dane, he will be forced to start from the pit lane.
“I just hit the wall,” explained Magnussen. “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.
“I’m just very disappointed to have made that mistake.”
Racing Director Eric Boullier admitted his disappointment to see Magnussen finish his session in the wall but knows the Danish driver will push during the race despite starting from pit lane. He was happy that qualifying began to show Button’s true pace after the Briton had struggled up to then.
“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,” said Boullier. “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.”