Jenson Button was puzzled by a loss of pace that leaves him 13th on Abu Dhabi grid
McLaren driver struggling to generate heat in his car's front tyres
By Mike Wise
Last Updated: 04/11/13 8:21am
Button lines up 12th on the grid having been sixth fastest in final practice earlier on Saturday. Speaking afterwards, he blamed his loss of pace on the cooler track conditions after the sun had set on the Yas Marina Circuit.
"This morning it was working really well and I was really happy. I've actually been really happy with the car all weekend," he said.
"In qualifying, we struggled because of the cooler temperatures - we can't get enough front end in the car."
Button explained that his attempts to cure the understeer - something he said he's struggled with for a while now - have been hampered because his MP4-28 is already "maxed out on front wing".
In order to balance the car, McLaren have been taking rear wing off - which helps explains its high straight-line speed this weekend.
"I have to take so much rear wing off - as you can see from the straight line speed - to try and help the balance but it was still nowhere near enough," rued the 2009 World Champion, who qualified four places behind team-mate Sergio Perez.
"It's completely different to what I've experienced all weekend."
Looking ahead to the race, a downbeat Button said: "It's going to be difficult. It's not just this race; I think we're going to struggle at the last two races of the year as well if we can't get the front end, which we've struggled with at the last few races.
"It's always going to be tricky when you're on low fuel with new tyres."
If he struggled to put heat into his car's soft tyres, Button was at least able to take some consolation from the fact that Pirelli's medium is working well.
"It's in our working range, which is good. It works in cooler temperatures. You wouldn't believe how hard I warmed the tyres at the start of the lap with brake warming and everything, but it's not enough," he added.