McLaren is saddled up for a tough Japanese Grand Prix following a disappointing qualifying session on Saturday which could dent the hopes of both its drivers in their championship bid.
Jenson Button qualified third but was left hurt as he incurs a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change ahead of the weekend, admitting that it would be a steep ask to make up significant ground in Sunday’s race.
“Overtaking has never been easy around here – even with the introduction of DRS – and, that being the case, it’s quite a surprise that the DRS zone has been shortened for this year,” Button noted.
“Everyone’s strategy could be up in the air– because there’s been quite a lot of tyre graining and blistering – things could still be a bit unpredictable,” he added optimistically.
“The championship is a long-shot for me, I know that, but I’d love to do well in front of the Japanese crowd; I’ll be going for the win,” Button hoped.
Teammate Lewis Hamilton, however, set his aim a lot lower from ninth place after he struggled in what he called his most disappointing qualifying session of year.
“To be honest, I went the wrong way with the set-up and ended up with too much understeer,” Hamilton confessed. “Until quali, the car had felt great all weekend, but I just couldn’t make it turn this afternoon, and as a result I just couldn’t extract the best from it.
“It’s going to be a struggle, but I’ll be pushing my hardest with the set-up I’ve got, and I hope that, through good tyre management, I’ll be able to overtake some of the cars in front of me. I’ll be trying to get as many points as I can,” he said.