Yesterday’s qualifying session at the Shanghai International Circuit produced some winners and losers, and team that unequivocally fell into the latter camp was McLaren, which saw both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen eliminated in the second phase of qualifying.
The double podium finish at the season-opener in Australia must already feel like a distant memory. The duo finished in the lower reaches of the points in Malaysia, followed by a double retirement a week later in Bahrain.
A telling factor has been the team’s poor showing in wet conditions, not helped by its reluctance to give its drivers any reasonable amount of track time in the damp final practice session before qualifying.
“It’s been a strange year in terms of the car in the wet, usually we’re good but we’re struggling for grip,” Button, who qualified twelfth-fastest, said.
“I can’t get the fronts working in low speed corners, [it’s] just shuddering so we can’t get the temperature in them, traction’s tricky as well so I hope it’s dry tomorrow. We’ll see what we can do but it’ll be a tough race tomorrow because of the green circuit so there’ll be lots of graining for everyone.”
Magnussen’s fifteenth-placed grid slot was hardly reflective of the Danish youngster – or the car’s – potential, and he was equally disappointed with his performance yesterday.
“We didn’t have a lot of grip, so it’s tricky,” he added. “[It was] nothing to do with the conditions, we just generally don’t have a lot of grip. Something didn’t go right maybe and we’ll have to see what we did, but hopefully we can have a better race. Hopefully we can make up some positions.”
Image via XPB Images