Jenson Button: “We knew we weren’t going to be competitive here”

It was a disappointing qualifying session for the McLaren-Honda team in Australia, with Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen qualifying seventeenth and eighteenth on the grid, and will start on the back row of the grid with the Manor F1 Team absent from proceedings.

Button knew the team would struggle at Albert Park, with pre-season testing hinting the car was a little behind their opposition. Despite his lowly grid slot however, the 2009 World Champion revealed he still felt positive about the potential of the MP4/30.

“This level of performance wasn’t a surprise for us: we knew from winter testing that the pace wasn’t there, so we knew we weren’t going to be competitive here,” revealed Button.

“However, there’s a good feeling about the car – I know we’re so far off, but the basic car is there beneath me, and we’re adding to our experience and learning with every lap we do.

“And that’s really impressed me – we’ve gone through our first race weekend together, and we’ve managed to solve each issue that’s confronted us. There’s just a lot of work needed to add power and downforce – but this is an important car for the future of McLaren-Honda.”

Button knows how challenging the race on Sunday will be for him and the team, after so far failing to complete a race distance in the new car, but he will try and make it a useful race to be able to learn more about the MP4/30.

“It’s going to be a really difficult race for us – we haven’t done a race distance yet, and my longest run is 12 laps – but we want to do the best we can because there’s so much learning to be had,” said Button.

“It’ll be a tough day, but we’ll be doing our absolute best.”

Team-mate Magnussen, only racing in Australia while Fernando Alonso recovers from his pre-season testing crash, will join Button on the back row of the grid, but despite suffering with a minor issue with his engine, knew that he would struggle to make it through into the second part of qualifying.

He knows the team will also struggle to finish inside the top ten and score points on Sunday, but like Button is seeking to learn more about the characteristics of the MP4/30.

“Things were going well on my first run in Q1,” revealed Magnussen. “Then, on my second run, I had a slight problem with the engine – it didn’t really matter, as we’d have needed a bit of luck to get into Q2.

“For tomorrow’s race, we’re not really focused on getting points – they’re not really on the cards for us – but we’ll go racing tomorrow to try and learn. We haven’t done a full race distance yet, so progress tomorrow will be important. If we can finish, we’ll learn a lot; and, even if we don’t, there’ll still be something useful to take home.

“This isn’t where we want to be, but we’re not ready to win races yet. We’ll put our heads down and keep learning, and we’ll try and take as much experience and knowledge from the race tomorrow as we can.”