Jenson Button paid tribute to the McLaren team after ending his fifty race wait for a pole position with the Woking squad. The Briton dominated the session, topping Q2 and Q3, before beating Kamui Kobayashi to pole by three tenths of a second. Button admits the lack of dry track time makes victory far from a formality but knows he needs a big result to keep his title hopes alive.
“It’s been so long since my last pole position that it almost feels like a win for me! In fact, it’s my first pole since Monaco 2009 – which was a race that I won – and it demonstrates that I can qualify really well. So I want to offer my congratulations to the whole team: it’s my 50th grand prix for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes this weekend, so it’s a great time to get a pole position for everyone at Woking, at Brixworth and of course here at Spa. I’m surprised that the new rear wing is working so well, but the engineers also did a great job with the balance. And it’s even more encouraging that we had good consistency through all three qualifying sessions. Nonetheless, nobody has done any long runs yet, so we still need to wait and see how tomorrow pans out.
“Can I still win the drivers’ championship? Yes. We’ll take it one day at a time, but hopefully we can get some good points tomorrow.”
Teammate Lewis Hamilton had a far from straightforward day having decided not to run a new-spec rear wing after morning practice. Hamilton will have his work cut out from seventh on the grid and is focussing on damage limitation tomorrow.
“Congratulations to Jenson! He did an excellent job and I hope he gets maximum points tomorrow. For me, today was a bit of a disappointment; but, since I’m still in the top 10, tomorrow will be about trying to make the most of things. The set-up wasn’t perfect, but that was simply because we chose the wrong rear wing, preferring to stay with the version we used in Hungary. The wing we’d been using in FP3 this morning hadn’t been working very well, so we opted to go back to the older wing which we thought would be the safer option. It was a collective choice: we thought the older wing would be quicker in qualifying, but in fact Jenson has shown the new wing to be very good indeed. Our side of the garage was a bit unlucky, but we’ll do what we can with what we have tomorrow.”