Jenson Button was left disappointed after traffic on his quick lap during qualifying cost him the chance to follow team-mate Fernando Alonso through into the second segment of qualifying at the Circuit of the Americas on Saturday.
The McLaren-Honda Formula 1 Team driver encountered one of the Manor Racing MRT drivers halfway around his final lap in qualifying, but the Briton found Jolyon Palmer on the racing line as he approached the final turn, compromising his entry to the turn and losing him enough time to miss out on advancing through.
The disappointment was justified as the McLaren team had shown strong pace in free practice, and Button felt nineteenth on the grid is not a representation on where the true pace of the MP4-31 is this weekend.
“It’s disappointing to be in P19 after qualifying,” said Button. “Our pace was good yesterday and this morning – eighth and ninth positions – so there’s definitely something not quite right there.
“I went out on the Softs to start with and we thought we’d have enough pace, but it was a tough lap and I hit a lot of traffic. If we’d judged it right at the end when we put the Supersofts on, it might have been fine, but it wasn’t.
“I had four cars to overtake in the last sector alone, and then the last one [Jolyon Palmer] didn’t move out of the way. He saw me really late and stayed on the racing line, so I had to outbrake into the last corner. It’s so important to brake late and carry speed into there and you can’t do that if you’re offline, it hurts the tyres a lot more. It’s disappointing.
“Hopefully tomorrow we can make up some ground in the race but it’s going to be a tough day – we have good race pace but overtaking around here will be almost impossible for us.”