SHANGHAI, April 16, 2011 (AFP) - Britain's Jenson Button admitted Saturday that world champion Sebastian Vettel was too fast during qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix, after the German surged to another pole in his Red Bull.
Button, who won the world title in 2009, produced a lap that was just fast enough to take second place ahead of his McLaren teammate and compatriot Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 champion.
"In the heat of the moment you always hope it is possible... but the pace of Sebastian and Red Bull was phenomenal," said Button.
The Brit used two sets of the softer option Pirelli tyres to try and cut into Vettel's time, but he wound up seven-tenths of a second off the pace. "It looked like it was possible, that is why I tried to run with two sets of tyres in Q3 and give it a try.
"Then I saw Seb's time and realised we were fighting for second place. It has been a reasonably good day for us overall because yesterday I don't think we had the perfect balance."
Button said changes that McLaren made to the set-up overnight had made the car more consistent but even if it could improve further it would still have to contend with enhancements made by Vettel's Red Bull team.
"We don't know what his (Vettel's) pace is going to be like in the race, if it's one second quicker (than us) then it's not possible to race with him," Button said.
"But if it's four-tenths quicker and we have KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) it is possible, we have to see where we stand tomorrow." Button added that while the gap between Red Bull and McLaren appeared to be big, he felt confident that McLaren can close it and Red Bull for the title this year.
"We are in a better position to challenge the Red Bulls," he said."This (McLaren) is a team that will never give up, they have fought for so many championships, they have the resources and the manpower to really fight for it."
Hamilton said he had saved tyres in qualifying to give himself more options on race day."I just wanted to increase chances for the race because that is what counts. I know the strategists say it is quite simple, but the race is never