Jenson Button says McLaren will have to come up with an alternate strategy for him in the Japanese Grand Prix in order to make up for his gearbox-change penalty.
Button will be demoted five places on the Suzuka grid as his gearbox had to be replaced following his second place in the Singapore GP. Both McLarens suffered related gearbox problems in Singapore, with Lewis Hamilton retiring from the lead as a consequence. The team is convinced the issue was a one-off.
Button was quickest on Friday morning at Suzuka, but only seventh in practice two, which he put down to a setup experiment not working.
"We have to think outside the box a little bit starting where we're going to start – at best – sixth," he said. "We tried a few things and not all of them worked. The problem was we couldn't go back on them because it would take too long to change. So for most of the session I actually wasn't out because there was no point just going around when the balance wasn't there."
He does not think the practice two miscue will hamper him, however.
"We know where to put the car for P3, that's the important thing," Button said. "This morning the car felt good, so we'll go back to something like that, with a few changes."
But however competitive his car proves to be, Button is skeptical about his changes of making up ground following his penalty.
"It's not going to be easy to overtake at all," he admitted. "We'll see what happens."
The Briton also feels that there is little to choose between the leading teams in Japan, an opinion echoed by Friday pacesetter Mark Webber.
"I think it's going to be a very competitive qualifying," said Button. "I don't think there's any car that really stands out in front."