The McLaren-Mercedes drivers Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen took third and fifth on the grid for this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Both drivers gambled on returning to the track in the final moments and maximised the increased grip in the final sector to leap up into the top five.
Button took his best qualifying result since the Brazilian Grand Prix of 2012, and his best Silverstone qualifying result since 2005. He thought he had blown his lap in the opening sector after making a mistake, but was delighted to end up third on the grid after the final sector proved to be much quicker than he had previously done.
“At the start of the session, I was really looking forward to getting out there,” said Button. “And, as soon as we did, we found the grip of the circuit, and I felt confident. I even did a lap in Q1 that was quickest overall, but I ran wide at the final corner in traffic, and that time was disallowed – nonetheless, I think it showed that, in difficult circumstances, we often tend make the best of things.
“On my final lap in Q3, I thought it was all over in the first sector: I made a mistake coming out of Turn Five and had a massive snap of oversteer onto the straight, but I still managed to make up the time over the rest of the lap.
“I would love there to be changeable conditions in the race tomorrow, but, realistically, if it’s dry, we’re not going to be quite as competitive as we were today. We’ll do our best to be as close to the front as possible, of course we will, but we’ll need to have a perfect race to get a decent result.
“Even so, I’m really happy to be third – in front of the my family, my friends and the British crowd – their support has been so uplifting throughout this whole event.”
Team-mate Magnussen also made the best of the conditions to take fifth on the grid, and was satisfied with his performance in the tricky conditions. He believes they are out of position and will be lucky to stay where they are in the race.
“It was a very tricky qualifying session,” said Magnussen. “Jenson starting third is fantastic for both him and the team, but I’m satisfied with fifth.It was really hard to know how the track would be from lap to lap, so I was playing it relatively conservatively. Right now, I regret not pushing more – but it’s always so tricky to know how much more you can do.
“I was quite surprised by how dry it was at the end of Q3. I didn’t even think we’d need to go out at the end because it wasn’t anywhere near dry enough – but the conditions were drier than we thought.
“It’s hard to say just what we can do on Sunday. We’re in a good position for the start of the race, but, realistically, we’re out of position. Still, I’ll be giving it everything tomorrow.”
Racing Director Eric Boullier was happy about the result of qualifying for his two drivers, praising both Button and Magnussen for their efforts in the tricky conditions. He acknowledges they are not where they want to be when it comes to outright pace, but knows both drivers are giving it their all to get the best possible result for the McLaren team.
“Clearly, bearing in mind our qualifying performances for recent grand prix, we’re pleased with P3 and P5 today,” said Boullier.“Having said that, it was a topsy-turvy session, and lady luck inevitably played her part in the way things panned out.
“Even so, I want to pay tribute to the team, because the guys made all the right calls at all the right moments, and they deserve credit for that, because the decisions they had to make were both difficult and critical. Both our drivers performed extremely well, too, in tricky conditions which quite a few others failed to master.
“Nevertheless, we aren’t going to allow ourselves to get carried away by our positive qualifying performance, because we know we’re not yet where we want to be in terms of car performance.
“But undoubtedly our decent grid positions are a welcome boost – and you may be well sure that both Jenson and Kevin will therefore be doing all they can, at our home race, in front of the most enthusiastic and most knowledgeable supporters in the world, to score as many championship points as they possibly can.”