The 2009 world champion lapped the slippery Sepang circuit in 2 minutes 04.053 seconds to line up tenth on the grid, nearly five seconds off Lewis Hamilton’s benchmark, after the Briton gambled on conditions improving in the final part of qualifying and opted to use the intermediate tyres.
However, the move backfired and the rain intensified towards the end of the session handing the initiative to his rivals who were on full-wets.
“When I did my first lap on inters and then we came in the pits, at that point if it didn’t rain, I think it would have been a good call.”
“But I put a new hot set on because I thought it would be good at the end of the session and I didn’t think it was going to rain again because we’d had such a big downpour.”
“It’s always a team effort but the final decision was down to me and I made the wrong call,” Button said, taking responsibility for the decision.
Button said it was worth rolling the dice as McLaren were not quick enough to fight at the sharp end of the field anyway, with the MP4-29 particularly struggling through the higher speed corners that form the second sector of the Sepang circuit.
“High-speed is an area where we do need to work, yes, and improve and it’s tough in both conditions,” Button said.
“In the dry, if you don’t have enough downforce in the high-speed corners, you overheat the tyres too easily, and in the wet, you can’t get the tyres in the working range because you can’t get the tyres warm enough because you’re going too slow,” he said.
Image courtesy of McLaren Mercedes.