Jenson Button is aiming to be second into the first corner at the Singapore Grand Prix tomorrow after qualifying third behind the two Red Bull drivers.
That will mean having to get past Mark Webber off the line – which may not prove too difficult, considering the Australian driver’s poor starts in recent races.
Button thinks it will be an eventful race, and that tyre management will be of the utmost importance: “Qualifying was a bit tricky in terms of getting the car to work in all three sectors,” he said. “We're putting a lot of heat into the tyres – so if we push hard in the first sector, we lose rear-end grip by the third sector. It's difficult trying to find that balance, but I think we got reasonably close to it this evening.
“It's only a short run down to Turn One, but I'd still like to be at least second into the first corner, so as to be able to challenge Seb from early on.
“Lining up third also means I'll be starting from the clean side of the grid. Tomorrow will be all about looking after the rear tyres: it's a long race – the longest of the season – so it's going to be hard and hot. A lot could happen tomorrow, and I'm really looking forward to it.”
McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton had a very eventful qualifying session and, to be honest, sounds lucky to have qualified in fourth place. “I had a pretty eventful time in all three qualifying sessions: in Q1, I damaged part of the floor on the kerbs and the mechanics did an absolutely fantastic job to get it fixed and the car turned around for the next session,” said the 2008 champion. “So I want to say a big 'thanks' to the guys for pulling out all the stops.
“I'm still not entirely sure how I picked up the puncture at the end of Q2. I went over a kerb at Turn 10 and the tyre sensors detected a sudden loss of pressure. There are quite a few bolts hanging out of the kerbs, so I guess it could have been one of those, but we don't really know.
“At the end of Q3, we had an issue with the refuelling process – we couldn't get enough fuel into the car quick enough. In the end, we just ran out of time, so I couldn't fit in my final run. But that's racing, and sometimes these things happen.
“Fortunately, my first Q3 run had been very good. I reckon there was still a bit more time to come – I lost some time behind Fernando [Alonso], when I got within a second of his car in the final sector of the lap – so if I'd managed to get another run in Q3 I'd have probably been able to make up some time there.
“But, all in all, fourth place isn't too bad – and, as I say, the most encouraging thing is that we've still got more pace up our sleeve. So, yes, I think the front row could have been possible.
“There's only a short run down to Turn One tomorrow, which means it'll be hard to overtake in the initial run down to the first braking point, so I think the race is going to be less about the start and more about looking after the tyres.”
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh is expecting ‘robust and combative’ challenges from his drivers tomorrow after good drives in qualifying today.
“Jenson did a fantastic job to recover from what by his own admission was a difficult day at the office yesterday, to post the third-fastest qualifying lap today,” he said.
“In fact, he was a bit unlucky to be pipped by Mark [Webber] at the very end of the session, and he'd been looking good for a front-row grid slot until then.
“Lewis drove really well today too, and will consequently start from the second row alongside Jenson tomorrow.
“In fact, he may have been able to improve on that time, had he been able to put in an extra lap in Q3, but unfortunately we had an issue with our refuelling process. That, combined with a puncture and a randomly selected visit to the FIA weighbridge, both in Q2, made for a rather eventful afternoon for him.
“So, to sum up, we're very confident that both our drivers will be able to mount robust and combative challenges in tomorrow evening's race, and as always the Singaporean Grand Prix promises to provide enough floodlit drama to have Formula 1 fans glued to their TV screens all over the world.”