Jenson Button claims he could have been “easily” through to the second phase of qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix but for an ERS deployment issue on his Honda-powered McLaren MP4-30.
The 2009 world champion had been consistently running on the fringes of the top 10 across all three free practice sessions and looked primed to make the initial cut on Saturday afternoon only to fall foul of another power unit-related reliability problem.
The situation was all the more frustrating for Button considering that Honda had planned on giving “full use of the ERS” to McLaren at Budapest.
“We did not have any electric deployment, which is obviously a lot of power, on the home straight,” said the Briton. “I lost three tenths, which is a lot of lap time and not something we can really make up with where we are. It’s a shame.
“The balance was good and we thought we’d be easily into Q2. I think it would have been 12th or 13th if you take the three tenths we lost on the straight.
“I really enjoyed driving the car today. This morning was a bit tough with oversteer exit, initial touch of the throttle, but this afternoon it felt really good. I know we’re not quick but the balance feels right and that’s what we can go by.”
Button claimed earlier this weekend that Q3 and points were the target for McLaren in Hungary, but the 35-year-old now braces for another challenging Sunday outing instead.
“13th or 16th does not make any difference for us in terms of positions on the grid. Hopefully, tomorrow will be reasonable. Our prime tyre seems to be more competitive than the options”.
“But it’s going to be a tough race. You can’t really overtake here and we definitely can’t overtake here. We’ll have to see what we can do in terms of strategy but I think most people are doing the same. We made it tough on ourselves but we’ll do the best we can.”