Photo courtesy of Jamey Price
“…Very happy, it was a hard slog yesterday with trying a few things, [but the] car is a bit more normal now. I enjoyed qualifying, it’s always a pain when you’re 30 milliseconds behind the car in front but, uh, P9 is not too bad considering the Force India’s pace so far this weekend. I’m very happy with that, in front of both Williams.”
So said Jenson Button to Formula 1 News after carrying through to Q3 and, with just one run, qualifying 9th for the Malaysian Grand Prix. That in of itself is not that big of a deal, but this is Button’s 300th grand prix, which puts him behind Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher and no one else in number of race starts. Tomorrow Button becomes just the third driver in history to achieve such longevity. In fact, his teammate Fernando Alonso is 4th on the list, 32 grands prix behind. McLaren does not currently build quickest chassis nor does Honda manufacture the strong power unit, so Button’s performance deserves accolades.
Even more exciting, Button goes on to say that he thinks he can stay ahead of both Williams and race the folks around him, so perhaps he’ll also finish in the top ten. Finishing in the points would be a well-deserved feather to put in his 300-grand-prix-hat.
Button qualified behind both Force India’s. Perez led in 7th, Hulkenberg right behind in 8th. That means Force India has a Button buffer between them and their closest Constructor championship rival, Williams. Force India is currently ahead by one point, but they now have a chance to widen the gap and tighten their grip on 4th, an admirable feat for the small, Silverstone based team.
Further ahead, Hamilton got serious and once again handily out-qualified teammate Nico Rosberg. But, as Rosberg said in the post qualy press conference. “As we know from this year, second place doesn’t mean that victory is not possible tomorrow. We’ve seen that so many times. Still very optimistic for tomorrow. “ It’s generally advantage Rosberg on race start, he proved it recently in Italy. One key difference I see, however, Hamilton seems laser focused and serious this weekend. I find it harder to forecast a flubbed start.
No matter, even if both Mercedes nail their starts and sail off ahead from the competition, we’ll get to see Ferrari and Red Bull duke it out for the final spot on the podium. Red Bull Racing starts ahead, but Ferrari may have an advantage on race pace and strategy. Definitely one to watch tomorrow.