McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh believes that Jenson Button would have been in contention for victory in the Belgian Grand Prix, had he not been forced to start from 13th on the grid after a problematic qualifying session.
Button stormed from the back of the field having had to pit on the opening lap to change his front wing, and eventually finished third after hunting down Fernando Alonso's Ferrari late in the race. But Whitmarsh reckons that Button could have achieved even more if he had not been bumped out of Q3 on Saturday at Spa, following a communication error between the Briton and his team as to how much time he had left to post a lap.
"Jenson's was the drive of the day," Whitmarsh said. "Poor qualifying, if we could have got him up the front of the grid where he could and should have been he would have been a contender today.
"A fantastic drive, losing a front wing and then dropping back to 19th, coming back through at the end and hunting down drivers like Fernando. And he was doing it in the dry, and people who say he can't do it in the dry, he did it today. Always a tinge of disappointment of what might have been, but we should really enjoy that drive."
Whitmarsh admitted that Red Bull's 1-2 finish had emboldened its positions in both the drivers' and constructors' championships, but added that McLaren would not give up until the titles were completely out of reach.
"There is plenty of racing left in this season, and congratulations to Red Bull, they did a good job here and got a 1-2 that makes the championship all that much tougher, but mathematically it's still possible and we have got to fight on. At least with Jenson we were able to demonstrate our pace, Lewis [Hamilton] was incredibly unlucky today but we are going to keep on pushing, as we always do.
"We struggled to get the tires in there initially, but the track came to us today and we were very strong. Jenson on his second two sets of tires was very quick and he was reeling in everyone."