Jenson Button believes McLaren are continuing to improve as the season progresses, after the Woking-based outfit endured a frustratingly uncompetitive start to the season. Although the 2009 World Champion believes the team is improving, they are also still lacking that vital efficiency to once again become a regular on the rostrum.
Only one year after securing seven race victories and eight pole positions, McLaren has endured an unusually uncompetitive season which has seen them fall from the front of the pack to the incredibly competitive midfield. The Woking-based outfit’s best finish of the year so far was 5th at the Chinese Grand Prix back in April, which has been their worst start to a season since 2009 when Lewis Hamilton eventually took McLaren to victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
After returning to the paddock after the summer break, Jenson Button has enjoyed a relatively productive weekend so far at the Belgian Grand Prix. Despite a frustrating opening day to the weekend on the Friday, the Woking-based outfit seems to have made some vital improvements to the car. This was immediately evident when Jenson Button qualified 6th, the highest a McLaren has qualified all season. The Briton is adamant that the team is moving in the right direction, with the balance and pace a particular improvement.
“For me it’s been a really good weekend so far – given our season experiences.” Explained Jenson Button, in an interview with Formula1.com. “The car felt extremely good. Also I think the balance, as well as the pace, is constantly improving. This morning in the dry conditions I felt very good. Friday afternoon was a bit strange as the car felt completely different. As soon as I exited the pit-lane everything felt very different. We saw this issue with both our cars, so I think it was more about the ambient temperature, the wind and the weather in general as it was unusually warm. On low fuel both the pace and the feeling was not there. We’ve been looking into the data from Friday evening and our guys worked very hard to get it back to the feeling of P1 where the car behaved like it had in the simulator. We could be pretty strong [in the race] as generally the long-run pace was okay – and today I was proved right as we haven’t been too far off, given the difficult conditions in qualifying. I personally would appreciate it if it stayed dry.”
However, Jenson Button is still dubious about McLaren’s chances of finally finishing on the podium this season. Although the former Belgian Grand Prix winner has qualified a strong 6th for the race, he firmly believes that the Woking-based outfit is still lacking that vital efficiency and pace that holds the key to a podium finish. For him, 6th is a realistic result which he is unlikely to improve upon unless Spa produces one of its crazy rain-struck races.
“I think there are still a couple of things that we are lacking here – efficiency is one of them.” Continued Jenson Button, “And we are still not quick enough, but probably the findings from this weekend will help us in Monza. For now P6 is a realistic position for us, but it is also an indication that we are on our way up again.”
Jenson Button’s uncertainty over the possibility of finishing on the podium in the race is a pure indication of the tough season McLaren has endured this year, with the team currently two points behind Force India in the Constructors’ Championship. Although a race victory will be highly unlikely for the Woking-based outfit during the latter stages of the season, they will undoubtedly be aiming to leapfrog Force India and remain ahead of them as the sport enters the second half of the season.
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