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Saturday’s qualifying session at Suzuka did not deliver the desired result for McLaren. Jenson Button was left to lament a five-place gearbox penalty as Lewis Hamilton deeply regretted making setup changes at a late stage.
“That hurts a little bit,” said Button, who qualified third but will start eighth because his gearbox was changed after the Singapore Grand Prix. “Today was good. I wasn’t too happy in practice but we made some improvements in qualifying and I was happy with the laps.
“I enjoyed it but we’re just not quick enough - I wouldn’t put my finger on where those four tenths are. A good qualifying for us but now it’s going to be difficult for me tomorrow, but never say never because there are still possibilities.”
Hamilton will set off from one place behind his team-mate, even though Button is taking the grid drop. The 2008 World Champion was one of a few drivers to have encountered yellow flags when Kimi Räikkönen spun in the closing stages of Q3.
“It was just one of those days,” he commented. “We had a bit of a problem with the setup and a lot of understeer in second practice, so we changed it for third practice. I opted to go back and unfortunately it didn’t work.”
When asked if the Räikkönen yellow flags compromised him, Hamilton replied:
“Not really. I was nowhere anyway, so…with the pace I have, who knows? You never know what’s going to happen in the race. The long-run pace wasn’t bad but the car…I’ll have to just deal with it.
"We made some setup changes going into final practice and it just isn’t the same now.”
Last year, Button won at Suzuka to celebrate his first all-dry F1 victory.
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