The Brit said he thinks that most teams will go for similar tyre strategies, Pirelli expecting a three stopper to me the norm, this weekend with fewer teams willing to try out different stint numbers.
He has endured a difficult start to his 2012 campaign but concedes that the team has made progress and that the steady improvement is promising. Button finished fifth at last weekends Chinese Grand Prix and is hoping to bring in another double figure points haul this weekend.
Quoted by Crash.net, he said “I think we’ve been improving since the first race – every race we have made improvements and I think maybe these circuits suit the car a little bit more in terms of where we have to put the … set-up – but to finish fifth at the last race and beat some very quick cars, we had to try something different, we beat every single car on the grid, at least one of the drivers, which is positive.”
However he admitted that it is not enough for McLaren at the moment, “P5 is not where we want to be, but I think we have to take a lot from last weekend. Yes, we had to try a different strategy, we had to try to do a two-stop. We felt that it was the quickest way for us to the end of the race, but it was very tricky to make it work because of the stint lengths that you needed. If you didn’t make the stint length, you dropped into a three-stop race. By that point, you’re pretty much out of the points, so we had to make it work.
“A lot went into the strategy and trying to understand what we have to do with tyres and the lap time we have to do. It was a tricky weekend but, in the end, a good result we should be very happy with.”
Focusing thoughts on this weekend, he cited tyre wear and cooling as one of the main things to watch out for. “Here [in Bahrain], I think we have to wait and see. It’s tough on tyres, it’s hot, it’s tough on the cars in terms of cooling, so we have to see, first of all, what downforce people are running and how the degradation is, to see what we do with the car. I think it’s probably more likely that everyone’s going to be running the same sort of strategy but we have to wait and see.”
A number of drivers have criticised Pirelli, the sport’s tyre manufacturer, for introducing tyres that degrade too quickly. However Button has sided with the firm and said that the racing so far has been fun, even if it has been for others and not necessarily him. “We’re never going to be happy with everything in this sport, but I think the racing has been good fun, I was on the receiving end of most of it at the last race because, obviously, doing less stops, you’re running old tyres most of the time, so there’s people overtaking you most of the time. So it’s not the enjoyable part of it for me, but I think, if you were doing a three-stop strategy at the last race, it was a fun race.
“They seemed like they were able to push pretty hard. In the past, we had tyres that would last the whole race and there wasn’t any overtaking, so it’s very difficult to get the correct balance. But we’re having two or three stops [now], which I think is what the idea was for racing in 2013. There are a lot of teams fighting at the front, [and] I think F1’s great at the moment. I’m really enjoying racing.”
Button is obviously feeling positive with how the team are progressing and prospects for the future, but for now fifth is not enough. However he did say when talking to Sky Sports F1 that he is still aiming for the title despite being the equivalent of “a win and a third place” behind championship leader Sebastian Vettel.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic