Jenson Button has said that he is expecting a difficult race in Russia tomorrow despite qualifying in an excellent fourth place.
McLaren has endured a difficult season, currently ranking sixth in the constructors’ championship behind Force India. However, it looks set to move ahead of its rivals this weekend after Button and teammate Kevin Magnussen both qualified inside the top six in Sochi.
Magnussen will drop down to 11th by virtue of a grid penalty, but Button is hopeful of a good result from fourth after resolving the issues with the MP4-29 car that cropped up in FP3.
“We were strong on both options and primes yesterday, in both FP1 and FP2, but this morning in FP3 we went backwards, even though we weren’t running a lot of fuel,” Button explained. “With the setup we’d adopted, the car just wasn’t working for us, but, importantly, we kept our heads after that, worked through the issues, and came to qualifying with a much improved car.
“Tomorrow, I really don’t know what to expect. Our long runs have been pretty good, but it isn’t obvious how many pit stops most drivers will be making. If you lock up here, however, you’ll completely flat spot a tire, and, if you do that, a one-stopper will become untenable, so as I say it won’t be straightforward at all.”
The British driver is fighting for his seat at McLaren as Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso looks poised to rejoin the British team. Although he has more experience and success than Magnussen, at 34, he is approaching the final few years of his F1 career.
In Japan, Button produced a stellar drive to finish fifth, and a repeat result in Russia tomorrow could give McLaren plenty to consider over the next few weeks.
You can watch the Russian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET tomorrow.