- United States Grand Prix - Qualifying
Throttle problem ruins Button's qualifying
McLaren have confirmed that an "out-of-the-blue" throttle problem led to Jenson Button pulling out of qualifying for the United States Grand Prix.
Button dropped out in Q2 but his time from earlier in the session was enough for him to salvage 12th on the grid. McLaren has suffered a number of reliability problems at recent races, with Lewis Hamilton retiring from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with a fuel pressure issue two weeks ago.
Technical director Paddy Lowe said Button's issue had not happened before, but admitted the team could not just blame bad luck.
"It was a problem with the throttle pedal," he confirmed. "These days the pedal is just a sensor in effect - there's a sensor there to measure the position of the pedal and it feeds that to the engine. The problem was that with the way it failed he effectively couldn't get full throttle, he could only get a certain amount and it was limited to a small amount that wouldn't get him very far. So when he drove in we had a vague hope that we might be able to fix it quickly and we had a quick look in there, but it obviously wasn't simple.
"It isn't all about luck, you do make your own luck. All of these things are within our control, ultimately. It's just that they often come out of the blue in areas where you drop your guard a bit."
Martin Whitmarsh said the team would deal with the issue but would not attribute blame in public.
"When things have gone wrong the conversations we have are internal," he said. "I know everyone is working hard but we don't always do a good enough job. We'll learn from it and we will come back stronger."
However, Whitmarsh believes Button will be in a strong position for Sunday's race because he has fresh tyres.
"In the short-term, Jenson is starting much further back than he deserves to but Jenson has got a big heart and quite a lot more fresher rubber than the cars ahead of him. A characteristic of the tyres here is that they are starting with six or seven more laps on them, which is more than they normally do. That's one facet of what was obviously a very big disappointment for Jenson and the team. If anyone can exploit the fresher rubber it's Jenson who can have a go at doing that."