• Japanese Grand Prix - Qualifying

Button admits McLaren 'just not quick enough'

ESPN Staff
October 6, 2012 « Front row lockout a 'great tonic' for Red Bull - Webber | Kobayashi eyeing podium at Suzuka »
Jenson Button will start in eighth place after a five place grid penalty for an engine change © Press Association
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Jenson Button admits McLaren was "just not quick enough" to challenge Red Bull for pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Having been second on the grid at Suzuka last season - just 0.007s slower than Sebastian Vettel - McLaren wasn't quite as competitive this season as Button qualified 0.451s off the pace. While admitting that he was happy with the balance of his car, Button said he couldn't work out one specific area where Red Bull was comfortably quicker than McLaren.

"[The grid penalty] hurts a little bit, but today was good," Button said. "This morning in practice I wasn't that happy, but we made some good improvements and for me both laps I did in Q3 were good, I was happy with the laps. Really enjoyed driving around here, it's always great with low fuel and new soft tyres, so it was a lot of fun. But we're just not quick enough.

"I wouldn't know what to put my finger on where that four tenths is. So a good qualifying for us but just a pity starting back in eighth; this place is such a nice place to fight for a win. It's going to be very difficult for me tomorrow, but never say never. I think there's always possibilities and I think we'll have a good race car also."

Button admitted that he expects Red Bull to be quick in the race but says tyre degradation will make race competitiveness uncertain for all the teams.

"I think we expected them to be quick; their race pace especially has been quick over the last few races, qualifying hasn't gone their way and Seb looked really quick in Singapore but it wasn't there it didn't seem at the end (of qualifying). Yeah, their pace is very good here ... the balance for me felt great. I felt really happy with the car but that was it, I felt that I got everything out of it on both laps but still quite a long way off these two but a long way in front of everyone else.

"Third place would have been nice to start the race because I think with this race you really don't know what's going to happen with tyre strategies and degradation and what have you; a lot of people struggling with blistering. But I'm starting down in eighth so it's not the easiest place to start from. I still think we can really race well from there, there's an unusual group of cars in front so hopefully we can not just get good points but you never know, maybe we can still challange these two [Red Bulls]."