• Chinese Grand Prix - Qualifying

McLaren planned slow timed lap - Button

ESPN Staff
April 13, 2013 « 'Anything' possible from ninth - Vettel | I should have reached Q3 - Perez »
Jenson Button will be the highest-placed driver to start on the medium tyres © Getty Images
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Jenson Button said McLaren always planned on doing a slow timed lap in Q3 in order to make up grid positions for the Chinese Grand Prix.

While Sebastian Vettel and Nico Hulkenberg just set sector times before pitting to preserve their tyres during the final part of qualifying, Button cruised around but crossed the finish line to set a time of 2:05.273. Though some 30 seconds off the pace it ensured Button will start eighth ahead of both Vettel and Hulkenberg and he said it was a plan decided before qualifying which was tough to adhere to.

"It was difficult judging how slow I could actually go!" Button said. "It was the idea before qualifying; we wanted to look at where our pace was through Q1 and Q2 and to judge what we should do in Q3. It's such a difficult call because the racer in you wants to go out and drive around on the soft tyre and see where you can put it and in Q2 we were relatively quick, quicker than we expected. P7 was a slight surprise but I really felt that I got everything out of the car and we weren't going to make up any places unless people made a mistake so we went for the prime direction. It was just a bit of cat and mouse at the end with the other cars to see who actually does a lap or not."

As the highest placed driver starting on the medium tyre, Button played down his chances of fighting at the front through his different strategy.

"We're eight tenths off the pace - or seven tenths - so we're a long way off the front, but you never know what's going to happen. I don't think any of us really understand the tyres yet around here; the slightest temperature change you have a lot more graining. The race is an hour later tomorrow and you've got a lot of fuel on board so hopefully the soft tyres are going to be a struggle. But we do have to run them in the end so we've got to choose where we run them."