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Button disappointed as error ends Singapore Q3 hopes

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Jenson Button was left disappointed after an error in Q2 ruined his final flying lap in qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix, ending his hopes of a top-10 grid slot.

McLaren arrived in Singapore hopeful of repeating its impressive display in Monaco earlier this year, the tight and twisting nature of the Marina Bay Street Circuit appearing to suit the MP4-31 car.

While Fernando Alonso was able to make it through to Q3 and eventually qualify ninth, Button was left to settle for 13th on the grid after hitting the wall on his last lap in Q2.

The contact with the wall at the exit of Turn 14 was minimal, but enough to leave Button with a busted rear-left wheel and a puncture, forcing him to park his car up.

“Up until qualifying, our weekend had been really tough,” Button said.

“But we made some changes to the car, and it felt really good this evening. It took a few setup tweaks and I found my confidence, so I was able to get the best out of the car in qualifying.

“Then, on my final run in Q2, I went a touch wide at the exit of Turn 14 and just tapped the wall on the exit.

“The impact broke the left-rear wheel and gave me a puncture – it was my fault.”

Button believes that he could have made it through to the final stage of qualifying had it not been for his error.

“It was definitely possible to get into Q3 today,” he said.

“My final lap in Q2 was looking very similar to Fernando’s before the puncture.

“Our long-run pace means the race could be difficult for us, but there’ll probably be some safety car periods and a bit of action, so anything could happen.”

Alonso was pleased with his charge to Q3 for McLaren, but is wary of the team’s chances of points on Sunday.

“On the face of it, I’m pleased. Getting into Q3 was our first objective, but our next is to be competitive in the race,” Alonso said.

“Our pace wasn’t great today and we struggled a little – in fact, good pace hasn’t come too easily to us this weekend.

“Hopefully we can improve for tomorrow though. Race strategy will be key, and I hope things can turn around for us a bit, especially if we get a good start, attack into the first corner and come out in a good position at the end of lap one.

“It might be a case of damage limitation in the race, but let’s see what we can do.”

The Singapore Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

WATCH: Red Bull F1 team completes pit stop in zero gravity

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The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.

With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.

Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.

With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.

“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!

“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”

Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.

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