Jenson Button was unable to explain his McLaren’s lack of performance after slumping to 13th in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying.
The Briton was comfortably in the top 10 in each of the three practice sessions but struggled in qualifying and was four tenths slower than team-mate Sergio Perez in Q2.
Button could not pinpoint the source of his problems but believes a combination of the change in temperature for the evening qualifying session, and the McLaren’s lack of downforce, played a part.
“I’m very puzzled,” he said. “It’s frustrating, this morning it was working really well and I’ve been happy with the car all weekend.
“I don’t know if it’s the temperature but I struggled to get the tires working. You wouldn’t believe how hard I worked the tires at the start of the lap but it’s not enough.
“It’s completely different to what I’ve experienced all weekend. Everything was a challenge today.”
After Perez’s strong run to fifth in last weekend’s Indian Grand Prix, McLaren had hoped the pair’s strong practice pace was a sign of further progress with its troubled 2013 car. But Button believes the extreme setup adopted this weekend — an aggressive rear wing setting that has the McLarens among the quickest through the speed traps — is a consequence of the car’s limitations and will only restrict its performance in the remaining races.
“We were maxed out on the front wing, there isn’t anything else we can do to the car to help out with the front end,” he added. “So I don’t know. We’re very limited with what we can do with setup. It’s tough and it’s going to be like this in the next couple of races.”