The McLaren-Mercedes team continue to improve their pace as the season goes on, with Kevin Magnussen taking a very impressive fourth place on the grid at Hockenheim. Team-mate Jenson Button struggled compared to his team-mate and will start the German Grand Prix in eleventh after missing out on Q3 by less than a tenth of a second.
Magnussen impressed during qualifying to take fourth on the grid, beating both Red Bull drivers. He believes the car is an improvement here in Germany, and is looking forward to maximising the result on Sunday, whatever the conditions.
“This has been a good day for me,” said Magnussen. “I think we got everything out of the car in terms of set-up, and our strategy throughout qualifying was perfect. Thanks to all the guys in the garage – they did a fantastic job. It was a great achievement to be able to hold off the Red Bulls, and I feel that we’re not too far away from some of the really strong guys.
“There’s no secret to our improvement: a lot of hard work has made the difference. We still don’t have the best car, but it’s well-balanced and raceable, and I think we’re able to get the best out of it on a regular basis. The car behaves quite differently with the new rear wing – again, thanks to all the men and women back at the factory who did such a fantastic job to get it to the track so quickly.
“Tomorrow could be a different story. The weather forecast says it’ll be cooler, and that there may be rain. We might struggle more in the race than we have today, but fourth place isn’t a bad position from which to start.”
Button missed out on the final part of qualifying by the tiniest of margins, but ultimately will start eleventh. The Briton admitted that he just was not quick enough after struggling for pace all weekend, and felt the time he lost behind the Lotus of Romain Grosjean on his first run in Q2 wasn’t the cause of him failing to make Q3.
“This hasn’t been an easy weekend for me, which is a shame because I really like it around here,” said Button. “I’ve been struggling with the car’s balance.
In qualifying, I encountered traffic [Grosjean] on my first run in Q2, and that cost me the opportunity to get into Q3 – he wasn’t even on a new tyre when he was on that run, so it wasn’t going to be his quick lap. On my final Q2 run, I had a very different balance and a lot of oversteer. I wasn’t quick enough.
“Looking ahead to tomorrow: our long-run pace didn’t look too strong on Friday – we struggled in the hot conditions, but I think we’ll hopefully be better if the predicted cooler conditions roll in for Sunday afternoon.”
Racing Director Eric Boullier heaped praise on Magnussen’s efforts while believing Button was luckless in qualifying. He feels the team are making the progress they need to become a force in F1 again, although it is slow going.
“Kevin has driven brilliantly all weekend – and his was a particularly superb performance this afternoon,” said Boullier. “He’s really adapted well to the upgrade package that we brought to the track this weekend, and he’s grown in confidence and speed in each and every session.
“The luck wasn’t with Jenson today: he hit traffic when running his first set of tyres in Q2, then he had a little bit of oversteer on final run, which cost him a couple of tenths. Starting outside the top 10 means we can make the choice on tyres for tomorrow – so it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“It’s a great motivation to the whole team to see that the work we’re doing is starting to have an effect: we’ve said all along that we need to stay humble and keep focusing on bringing just a little bit more than our rivals to each and every race.
“By doing that, little by little, we can close the gap – it might only be a couple of tenths every race weekend, but there comes a point when those improvements start to become visible. I think we’re starting to break through into that territory now. I know it won’t be like this every weekend, but we’re definitely starting to turn the corner.
“We’ll be going into tomorrow’s grand prix looking to race hard and capitalise on our upturn in performance.”