Russian GP: Jenson Button says McLaren is taking risks ahead of 2016

Jenson Button says qualifying in 13th place for the Russian Grand Prix was unexpected, as McLaren 'takes risks' with its Formula 1 car with a view towards 2016

Russian GP: Jenson Button says McLaren is taking risks ahead of 2016

Button progressed to Q2 for just the fourth time this F1 season at Sochi, and then out-qualified the Mercedes-powered Lotus of Pastor Maldonado and Williams of Felipe Massa.

While Button is braced for a tough race given Honda's energy deployment limitations, the fact the qualifying performance came amid experimentation for the future was even more encouraging.

"We're running the car a little bit different to normal here, because there's a lot of work going into next year, so that's promising," he said.

"You take more risks with the car when you know you're not really going for points.

"You try different things and that's what we're doing this weekend, and what we'll be doing for the rest of the year.

"We're trying things all of the time, we knew this circuit would be tough so we tried different things with the set-up and it looks like they're working."

Noting that he escaped Q1 based on "actual speed, rather than any issues people had", the 2009 world champion declared it is his best qualifying session of the season, at a circuit McLaren-Honda expected to struggle.

"In Q1 I was only one-and-a-half tenths off 10th place, which is surprising," he said.

"Q2 was a little bit more normal for us, about four or five tenths off of P10.

"I couldn't get any grip there at the end on new tyres, I think it was the same for everyone.

"But P13 in both sessions, I don't think it's too bad for us at the moment.

"On a circuit where power is very important, it's better than I expected. We did a good job."

ALONSO ALSO LOOKING TOWARDS FUTURE

While Fernando Alonso narrowly missed out on joining Button in Q2, he was content with the outcome, given he would have started last anyway based on a 25-place grid penalty.

Like Button's, his MP4-30 is running parts aimed at 2016 and beyond, and his focus turned to more testing during Sunday's race.

"The race is important for us," he said. "We didn't have any clear target in qualifying because we are starting last.

"We have some experimental parts on the car for next year, projects, so we need to get some information about those."

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Russian Grand Prix FIA qualifying press conference transcript

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