McLaren drivers wary despite strong qualifying result

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McLaren drivers Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button do not believe that they will be able to fight at the front of the field in tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix despite qualifying in fifth and sixth place today.

Thanks to the Mercedes engine, the team’s straight line speed allowed it to outqualify both Ferrari and Red Bull despite trailing both teams in the constructors’ championship.

When speaking about the result in a media session on Saturday evening, both drivers admitted that they were surprised to have done so well.

“Fifth and sixth is pretty solid for the team,” Magnussen, who qualified ahead of Button, said. “In fact, I didn’t think our qualifying pace would be quite that strong.

“I’m really happy to have the power from the Mercedes engine behind me, and hopefully we can challenge the other Mercedes runners in front of us.

“The Williams cars look a bit stronger than ours, and the Mercedes too obviously, but I still think we can give it a go and score some good points.”

For Button, the race pace of the MP4-29 car could give the team a stiffer challenge against the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari tomorrow.

“I think things will be a bit more competitive in the race,” Button said. “Our Friday long-runs proved somewhat tricky for us, so we’ll be aiming for a better race tomorrow.

“It’ll be hotter on Sunday, too, which could potentially help us, so we’ll see what happens in the race.”

McLaren has endured another difficult season in 2014, following on from its troublesome 2013 campaign that was its worst since 1980. However, a strong double-score should aid the team in its bid to beat Force India to fifth place in the constructors’ championship ahead of Honda’s return as an engine supplier in 2015.

You can watch the Italian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7.30am ET tomorrow.