October 26th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Jenson Button qualified tenth for the Indian Grand Prix, just behind Sergio Perez, but McLaren's choice of tyre strategy means both drivers could be in with a chance of a very strong result in the race.
Throughout the weekend, the medium compound "prime" tyre has proven extremely durable, while the soft compound "option" tyre has worn out within just a few laps. As a result, the top ten in qualifying were faced with a difficult decision: qualify well on the option tyres and then make a very early pit stop in the race, or compromise qualifying by using the prime tyres and then run longer in the first stint of the race.
McLaren chose the latter option for both of their drivers. They were joined on that strategy by Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber, who qualified 8th and 4th respectively. That means the McLaren drivers could find themselves close to the front of the field when the soft tyre runners pit in the early stages of the race.
Button said after qualifying:
“Running the Prime in Q3 was probably the best strategy call for the race. Of course, that hurt, because my heart was telling me that I ought to be out there [in Q3] on the Option.
“Our qualifying runs on the Option looked really good – I was quickest in Q1 – but the Prime tyre didn’t work as well for us. I found it more difficult because I couldn’t get any temperature into the tyre, so I was about half a second off in the first sector on my run in Q3.
“Still, running the Prime was probably the right thing to do, and I’m sure it’s the best tyre for tomorrow. I’m looking forward to an exciting, eventful and unpredictable race.”
Sergio Perez described his qualifying session:
“Ninth was probably the best we could have achieved this afternoon. It was always going to be difficult to beat Fernando [Alonso], but I might have been able to achieve it if I’d done one more lap on the Prime. But we need to look after the tyres for tomorrow, so that wouldn’t have been the right thing to do.
“Clearly, we’re on a different strategy to most of the other cars, so it’ll be very interesting to see what we can do on the Prime tomorrow. There are four other cars inside the top 10 starting on the Prime, so we’ll be looking to take the advantage if the Option-runners pit during the early laps tomorrow.
“I think we have a good chance in the race. Our long-run pace looks pretty strong – so, with a good strategy, I think we can do well tomorrow.”