Button: Q1 exit in Azerbaijan not a reflection of McLaren’s pace

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Jenson Button called his Q1 exit in qualifying for the European Grand Prix on Saturday “a real shame”, believing it not to be a fair reflection of McLaren’s pace.

Button and McLaren arrived in Baku, Azerbaijan hopeful of bouncing back from an early retirement last weekend in Canada.

Despite laying down a good pace during practice on Friday, Button was unable to get past the first stage of qualifying at the Baku City Circuit, finishing down in 19th place.

The Briton bailed on his final quick lap, reporting to the team: “Yeah it’s not happening… F*** it!” before coming into the pits.

“In Q1, I locked up into Turn 15 – we’d fitted new brakes ahead of quali, which we always do, but they were a bit more ‘grabby’” Button explained.

“It’s a real shame because I’d been seventh or eighth all weekend – and while I’m not sure we’re that quick, we’re definitely not 19th either.

“It isn’t easy around here because of the traffic, but after I’d flat-spotted, I did a donut to spin the car back around, and that isn’t usually the best thing for these tires, so we should have come in and fitted a fresh set of tyres for the rest of Q1.

“We thought we’d have more of a margin – but that wasn’t quite the case.

“We just need to have some fun tomorrow.”

In the second McLaren, Fernando Alonso was unable to continue his run of Q3 appearances, qualifying 14th in Baku.

“14th position isn’t ideal, but we saw how many incidents there were, and how many people went off during qualifying, so there’s still everything to fight for tomorrow,” an upbeat Alonso said after the session.

“A safety car or an incident could quickly put us in a position to score points – so that has to be our aim.

“Whatever opportunity comes our way, we’ll be there, focused and ready, to take it.”

The European Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET on Sunday.