Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Motor Racing

Button wants qualifying improvement

Jenson Button knows he has to end his qualifying torment if he is to have any chance of retaining his Formula One title.

Not once in the 10 races this season has Button managed to start in the top three on the grid, appreciating that has then compromised his opportunities in the races.

Most notably, the reigning world champion has been out-qualified by McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the last six races, slumping to a dismal 14th on the grid 12 days ago at the British Grand Prix.

Remarkably, though, Button finds himself only 12 points adrift of championship leader Hamilton ahead of this Sunday's race at Hockenheim in Germany.

But the qualifying trend is one Button is determined to reverse.

"My most memorable experience at Hockenheim must be back in 2004," recalled Button.

"That was when I qualified 13th and raced through the field to finish second, so not too dissimilar to my race at Silverstone (where he finished fourth).

"But after two disappointments in qualifying at Valencia and Silverstone, my aim for this weekend must be to make life easier for myself on Saturday afternoon.

"If I do that then I can maximise my performance on Sunday without needing to play catch-up during the race."

Crucial to Button's hopes are McLaren's plans to re-introduce their version of the performance-enhancing exhaust blown diffuser.

After being trialled and ditched following Friday's two practice sessions at Silverstone, McLaren have spent the last week or so fine-tuning their design.

It will be aired and rigorously tested in tomorrow's two 90-minute practice runs, with a decision to be made after analysis as to whether they will continue with it throughout the weekend.

"It will be another busy weekend for all of us as we spend tomorrow working through the changes we've made to optimise the diffuser," added Button.

"Hopefully we'll have a positive test and we will be able to see the benefits of the upgrades in the race for the first time. I'm looking forward to it."

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, however, is cautious as to whether his team have managed to perfect the concept.

"You can't be entirely confident you've solved the issues," said Whitmarsh.

"But I think we go into Hockenheim with more information. We've made some modifications in light of the data and we will be running the blown diffuser tomorrow.

"I suspect we'll have it on for the weekend, but we'll make the call in the light of the data tomorrow evening."