Jenson Button hopeful dry Chinese GP will give McLaren chance to recover from Q2 exit
Front tyre warm-up problems leave McLaren halfway down grid
By James Galloway in Shanghai. Last Updated: 19/04/14 12:44pm
Jenson Button put McLaren's double Q2 elimination in China down to front-tyre warm-up problems in the heavy rain of qualifying - but remains confident a dry race will allow them to come back up the field.
The former World Champion and rookie team-mate Kevin Magnussen will line up 12th and 15th respectively after struggling for grip in the increasingly heavy rain that dogged the Shanghai International Circuit throughout Saturday, McLaren's worst grid positions of the season.
With temperatures already having proved consistently low throughout the race weekend, Button admitted the onset of rain just exacerbated McLaren's tyre problems.
"This is a tough track anyway with the cold temperatures we've had this weekend and then you throw the rain into that, we are struggling," the Briton told reporters on Saturday night.
"We are doing everything we can to get the tyres working. Overall grip is lacking in terms of downforce and when you have that issue it's a lot easier to get rear temperature because you can spin the tyre, whereas fronts you can't.
"So it's very, very tricky and that's one of the main reasons why I struggled."
After McLaren suffered their first two-car race retirement in eight years two weeks ago in Bahrain, their Shanghai qualifying struggles could be used as further evidence to suggest that the team, which claimed a double podium at the season-opener in Australia, had fallen further off the leading pace.
However, with the 56-lap grand prix currently forecast to be dry, Button is optimistic McLaren will be able to prosper following what would effectively be a 'reset' in track and grip conditions.
Asked which kind of race-day conditions he would prefer, Button replied: "Definitely dry. We will have a very tough afternoon if it's wet. In the dry, if it's cold, it's still tricky, but we're able to just put the tyres in a good position and I think we can race well.
"The thing is tomorrow it's going to be such a green track if it is dry, which I think it is going to be, it's very difficult to know what to do in terms of strategy. But we're very good at thinking on our feet and adapting to difficult conditions and different scenarios that we'll find tomorrow."
The 34-year-old added that the team would inevitability learn lessons from Saturday's events and could certainly still achieve a respectable result come Sunday's chequered flag.
"A tough day for us, but in a way a useful day to see where our weaknesses are," Button added.
"But also looking forward to tomorrow; there are a few cars we know we can't beat but there are lots of cars we can race and still get a good result."