Tire gamble fails to pay off for Button

Sat Mar 29, 2014 9:25am EDT
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By Patrick Johnston

SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - A gamble on tires failed to pay off for McLaren's Jenson Button but the former Formula One world champion remained positive he could still threaten from 10th if the rain persisted at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

As most of his rivals went for wet tires, the British driver opted to run on intermediates in the final qualifying phase after just making it into the top 10 qualifying shootout at a rain soaked Sepang Circuit.

"The decision to run on inters in Q3 was my choice. I usually make those kinds of calls, and tend to get them right, but I got it wrong today," the 2009 world champion told reporters.

"When you're quick enough to be fastest on full wets, then choosing to run on inters isn't worth the gamble; but, when you're fighting at the back of the top 10, it's worth giving it a go to see what happens."

A top 10 finish looked beyond Button, who finished third in the season opener in Australia two weeks ago, after he recorded the slowest lap time in the final practice before qualifying.

Team mate Kevin Magnussen faired even worse and was unable to set a time after he complained to his team over the radio about a lack of power.

But the issues were fixed in time for the qualifying session, with the 34-year-old Button refusing to be disappointed that his ploy was hit by a further deluge of rain.

"Into that final qualifying session, just as it looked as though the conditions were heading back towards favoring the inter, it went and rained again," he bemoaned.   Continued...

McLaren Formula One driver Jenson Button of Britain drives during the third practice session of the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit outside Kuala Lumpur, March 29, 2014. REUTERS/Samsul Said