Button concerned by McLaren’s lack of running

2011 F1 testing

Jenson Button, McLaren, Barcelona, 2011

Jenson Button, McLaren, Barcelona, 2011

Jenson Button admitted he’s concerned about how little mileage the team have covered with their new car.

Speaking to journalists following today’s test in Barcelona he said: “This morning we didn’t really get much running because we had to change some parts on the car which took a bit of time.

“I only really got one run in. It was very difficult to get a feeling. We have done longer runs with higher fuel this afternoon.

“Long run pace, I don’t know what it’s like. It feels like if we can tweak the balance, we can have a good balance around here.

“When I came in and our day was cut short, I was a little bit frustrated, I wanted to go out again and really make a difference, change the car. I think it would have really helped us over a long run.”

His car had a hydraulics failure early in the test while the team were carrying out aero-mapping. He had a similar failure later in the day, limiting him to just 54 laps on a day when Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg covered 131 – one less than two race distances.

Button admitted McLaren were at a disadvantage to the other teams having covered less distance so far in testing: “We’re not doing as many laps as I would like. The most was yesterday testing the new car.

“We’re a lot of mileage down compared to the other cars. It’s obviously a disadvantage.

“That’s something we are addressing and hope to rectify over the next few days with Lewis.

“The reliability and the spare parts are all here, we can get some more mileage done. Mileage is important for the reliability and to find the small things and issues, but also for set-up, we haven’t had a lot of time to do any set-up work.”

Button estimated the difference in lap time between new tyres as “over a second, a second and a half”. He said the variation between the tyres added to the difficulty of improving the car’s set-up:

“The problem is if you have a limited amount of laps, with a non adjustable front wing and such different fuel loads. It’s very difficult and with three different types of tyres that work in very different ways, one run you have oversteer, and you try and adjust the front wing to help with that, the tyres on the cars are totally different, so it’s very difficult.

“We need more experience working with the front wing, how it works with different tyres, it’s taking a little bit of time and on a circuit like this it’s very important to get the aero balance right. It’s been a little tricky with limited running and big gaps between runs.”

He added the team are “a long way” from understanding the car’s performance: “In one way it’s disappointing we haven’t done enough miles, on the other hand, more performance to come and things to come together which is exciting.

“But we’ve just got to have some mileage so we can see what the car can do.

“Hopefully over the next two days Lewis can get some running and we can use everything available, like the spare parts, which we haven’t yet for different reasons. Then we can see what the car can do over one lap.”

Despite their problems Button said he still supported the team’s plan of using the old car for the first test:

“I still think its important what we have done as we were able to back to back the tyres.

“I also think it was important to spend as much time on the car as possible. I think what we have done was the right thing to do.”

Button said the tyres were giving a lot of oversteer as they wear but believes other teams are experiencing the same problem: “With the temperature change, today was a lot cooler.

“We were running around doing 1’29s, we weren’t the only one., Vettel was also doing 29s, I guess they were struggling with the same thing. When you lose the front tread once its started graining, it’s very tricky to get right.

“The thing is we come here with different tyres. Two sets of soft, one set hard, two sets of mediums. It’s very difficult to do back to backs and understand them, because you always have different tyres on the car.

“It’s tough but it’s the same for all of us. More running helps to understand tyres and we haven’t had that privilege.”

Button said he wasn’t concerned by only being eighth-fastest in today’s test: “Our pace today was very difficult to understand with the issues that we had.

“I think if we get everything together and put the parts on the car that will make the car go quicker, and get everything together with KERS and the rear wing, our pace won’t be too bad.”

He added: “Do you really think the Ferrari is six tenths slower than the Red Bull?”

“Also, Ferrari’s long runs seem to be about two seconds quicker than everyone else. There are so many different things going on.

“Normally in testing it’s very difficult to get a understanding anyway, in the old days when we had refuelling, you could pretty much understand. But now, it’s so difficult to understand what fuel people are on.

“Or what tyres people are on. The soft compared to the hard is one and half seconds quicker. If somebody has got a super soft here, it’s another second. It’s very difficult to know.

“I think what is interesting, is looking at people’s consistency. That’s when you can really see if they have a good car. The Ferrari does look very competitive, in terms of consistency.

“But other teams do as well, even Toro Rosso, who look reasonably strong in terms of consistency. The Red Bull looks pretty good, but not as good as the Ferrari. I still don’t know where we stand.

“I think it’s unfair really to judge us at this point with the amount of laps that we have done which has not been massive. We need some good days testing to really unlock this car. It’s exciting, there are a lot of good possibilities with it”.

He agreed that his driving style could serve him will with the high-wearing tyres, saying, “Yes it will suit different drivers – but you still need a car underneath you that’s strong.

“F1 cars are very different than last year with the limited amount of downforce. It’s very different to drive.”

If the Bahrain test does not go ahead this will have been Button’s last run in the car before the season starts. But he expects he will get a further testing chance: “I’m guessing it will be the same.

“We’ll either be testing in Bahrain or somewhere else. We will get the same amount of days. So two more days in the car.”

On the Bahrain situation he said: “I haven’t got a clue what is going to happen. I don’t know, I haven’t been told anything. I don’t think anyone knows.”

Quotes and additional reporting by Leandra Graves

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50 comments on Button concerned by McLaren’s lack of running

  1. Ezwards said on 19th February 2011, 18:58

    We are all worried about this, lets get it together lads!

  2. May I ask who is this Leandra Graves who did the interview? Never hear of her before.

    • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 19th February 2011, 19:35

      new member of F1F. She’s at Barcelona covering the tests.

      …while Keith stays warm at home :P

      • She did a good gob of it indeed. She should’ve asked him why he’s hindering mclarens development process.

        • Alistair said on 19th February 2011, 23:01

          Exactly: Jenson is too sensitive; he needs the car pretty much perfectly set-up for him to feel comfortable and give useful feedback.

          As for the car being a dud, Lewis sounded pretty happy with it. I don’t think this is another 2009. Although, as I have always said, McLaren have not helped their drivers in terms of giving them the best car, the best pitstops, the best strategy, etc: Lewis has had none of this; yet he’s still a WDC with McLaren.

          • San Juan Bautista said on 20th February 2011, 9:39

            I think: it’s great that Jenson is sensitive and honest; details – details – details, is how it should be; especially if you want to develop the car – i guess that’s just his style. with which YES, i do agree, but i don’t think he ever can be TOO sensitive.

            I also agree that mclaren haven’t been the best at helping their drivers for the past 4 seasons..

            as for the car being a dud, i don’t really remember him saying so, it’s just an issue of bringing the car further forward with much more running.

            he mentioned before that there weren’t any updates on the car – Which for me is a MAJOR CONCERN

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 19th February 2011, 23:09

      I introduced Leandra in the round-up a couple of days ago:

      http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2011/02/18/ecclestone-i-think-we-will-probably-have-to-cancel/

  3. And I believe this new McLaren is screwed. It is the modern equivalent of the car they built a few years back that never raced, can’t remember the name mp4-16? 17? Too radical for its own good.

    Mclaren are the best team in the world when it comes to outsmarting themselves. We get the same BS from them each and every year

    “” An unnamed engineer from the Woking-based team admitted yesterday that they needed to find a full second to be able to challenge the RB7 and F150.”

    They are sorely missing Mike 007 Coughlan & his Ferrari dossier.

  4. Shimks said on 19th February 2011, 19:26

    I love Button. Always has the time to give a chat with some real substance.

    • I love Button

      I don’t. Simply because I believe he is hindering the development of the car.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 19th February 2011, 20:29

        Why would Button be hindering development? Not his fault they had some tech issues with it today.

        I agree, that talking with him always seems to be relatively informative. And I agree, that the lack of track time is getting a bit worrying, even though I expect the speed to be in that car, it will not really matter if they cannot get a good setup or have it break down.

        • Why would Button be hindering development?

          That would be because this is the same man who complained driving a Brawn in the early part of 2009.

          Give him a mp4/4 + FW14B + F2002 + RB6 and you’ll find that he’ll still complain about not finding the right balance.

          • matt90 said on 19th February 2011, 21:39

            Perhaps its cos the right balance is hard to find but very important. I can’t recall him complaining about the Brawn during the first half of the season.

          • To be fair to him, the whole point of testing is to find the balance of the car prior to racing and to sort out technical problems etc. I can’t understand your logic of how he could possibly be hampering development by simply complaining about balance…. Just does not make any sense at all.

          • Hare (@hare) said on 20th February 2011, 3:11

            Hey, any half decent engineering company will tell you how important feedback is.

            The driver is driving a multimillion pound driving machine, built for him around his input. So don’t knock him for providing input. If I was working with him, I’d love those levels of feedback!

            The more articulate ‘complaining’ there is the more info and impetus there is for the continuing development process.

            So for me, I’m fine with his comments, and pleased about them. However I do see your perspective.

          • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 20th February 2011, 9:55

            Button explains it himself …

            He will have the wings adjusted only to find that with a different fuel load or tyres the car behaves different again.

            Just knock it off with the balance tweaking and do the laps!

      • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 19th February 2011, 23:19

        Yeah, I get the same feeling. He seems so obsessed with finding that perfect balance that it’s hard to imagine him actually doing something useful.

        Really hope Hamilton finally can get some work done tomorrow.

  5. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 19th February 2011, 19:34

    Relax Jense!!! It sounds like the world is bloody sinking!

  6. SPIDERman (@spiderman) said on 19th February 2011, 19:38

    i think they have basically designed and built another submarine of a car…too sluggish in corners since its too long…that is the basic problem.

    • Mclaren are the most frustrating team to follow in F1. I used to be a fanatical follower of them until recently, you won’t even believe the level of fanacism I used to indulge in lol.

      I’ve finally given up on them & life has become really smooth and easy for me.

      Following mclaren can be potentially injurious to health as I found out.

      All talk, no WCC to show for it.

      Sort it out Mr Whitmarsh.

      • Totally agree with you, all I care about in this is LH, and they are gonna wreck Hamilton’s statistics with these ‘dog’ cars. Please, just for one year in my viewing-life, build a great car, please??

      • AdamF184 said on 20th February 2011, 0:24

        Wow you are such a dedicated fan that you ditch who you support if they arent constantly winning. Mclaren dont need fans like that, Im sure following RedBull will be far nicer for you!

      • Hare (@hare) said on 20th February 2011, 3:13

        and so? Makes for a more exciting season..

      • Hare (@hare) said on 20th February 2011, 3:16

        I used to be a fanatical follower of them until recently, you won’t even believe the level of fanacism I used to indulge in lol

        No, I think I can see some spark in your comments ;)

        • San Juan Bautista said on 20th February 2011, 9:48

          I agree with Hare
          ;)

          Just sounds like a frustrated Girlfriend

          whom.. may be in love unconditionally to her BF, and is just hitting a rough patch

    • Well the basic problem is that they have not had enough running. Neither of the drivers has complained or even hinted that the car is slow in corners. In fact Button hints in the above interview that they have not even tried a very fast run yet.

  7. DelBoy said on 19th February 2011, 20:08

    Lets wait until tomorrow. Lewis will sort the car out and then Jenson can drive it. Jenson even moaned about the Brawn when it was 2 seconds faster than the rest of the field. Can´t wait for tomorrow. come on <Lewis
    enjoying Barca

    • Dipak T said on 19th February 2011, 21:37

      Jenson even moaned about the Brawn when it was 2 seconds faster than the rest of the field

      Were you not paying attention in 2009? In Australia, it was 5 tenths. The advatage had disapeared by Turkey, six races in. The Brawn spent more races as the second fastest car, than it did as the first!

      After the first race, every other time a Brawn was on pole it was by less than a tenth, including wet qualifying in Brazil!

      • San Juan Bautista said on 20th February 2011, 9:51

        I also agree with Dipak..
        If anything RBR has had a bigger advantage in 2010 over everyone in comparison to Brawn in 09

  8. Nothing has changed in Formula one since 1990 I believe. two men have defined how F1 cars look,race,perform etc.

    Adrain Newey and Rory Byrne.

    Infact the last F1 car to win a WCC on its own merit not designed by these two was the Mclaren MP4/5B designed by Neil Oatley( who still works with mclaren)

    I know 1991 was won by mclaren, but its only reliability & Mansell’s stupid antics that cost newey & williams titles that year.

    1992-2004 was a newey-byrne whitewash. 2005 should have been a newey year but for reliability & all know that in 06 renault were using an illegal car for more than half the season & the 06 ferrari ended the year as the quickest.

    If you forget spygate & stuff for the time being the mclaren mp4-22, an evolution of a newey design easily beat ferrari that year & in 08 lewis won the title again with a newey evolution.

    2009 maybe was an exception but for the DDD RB would have dominated & 2010 despite trying very hard to lose both titles they eventually won the WCC with a race to go.

    mclaren hope of catapulting RB would be to woo Rory out of retirement. I believe he somewhere in Thailand now.

    • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 19th February 2011, 23:23

      Oh come on. Renault weren’t using an illegal car. Seriously the WMSC (ie Mosley) was told by Ferrari to ban the mass damper as a “moveable aero device”.

      Agree with you on the Newey / Byrne domination though.

    • F1_Dave said on 19th February 2011, 23:24

      renault did not run an illegal car for the 1st half of 2006 as it passed every fia scruitineering test and was deemed legal at every race.

      the mass damper was deemed perfectly legal by the fia pre-season, they only banned it after ferrari went to the fia to ask for clarification regarding it.
      intrestingly ferrari had also been testing a mass damper system similar to renaults but hadnt been able to get it to work.

      also intresting was that at hockenheim the fia’s own technical inspection team deemed the mass dampers to be legal which saw the fia have to protest its own stewards to get the system banned.

      so if the mass damper system was illegal at the start of 2006, why did the fia deem it to be legal and pass the renault as been legal at every gp up untill the french gp?

      you can read all the details here:
      http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2007/05/31/banned-tuned-mass-dampers/

    • McG (@mcg) said on 20th February 2011, 1:16

      I wouldn’t say whitewash.

      97 Williams won the Constructors and Drivers with a Patrick Head and Gavin Fisher design.

      99 Frentzen in the Jordan wasn’t far off the drivers title.

      Remember Williams finished not too far behind Ferrari in 03 and ahead of McLaren in the constructors. Montoya 3rd in the drivers not too far behind Schumi and Raikkonen.

      Then after that was the Ferrari domination and we all know how they liked to play that. That era is a completely different discussion all together and arguably one of the worst in F1’s history, with some of the same culprits as in Schumi’s first titles.

      Then Renault won in 05 and 06.

      Then Ferrari in 07 with a non Byrne car.

      McLaren in 08 with a non Newey car. Despite you saying it was a Newey evolution, it wasn’t a Newey car.

      09 Brawn.

      So how is that a whitewash?

  9. kowalsky said on 19th February 2011, 21:09

    Give him a mp4/4 + FW14B + F2002 + RB6 and you’ll find that he’ll still complain about not finding the right balance.

    i like that. We all know that most drivers are masters of blaming their lack of speed on anything, but the comment above is so extreme. I like it.

  10. John H said on 19th February 2011, 21:30

    Why didn’t they test the thing in the first Jerez test. Why didn’t they test at Abu Dhabi in 2010.

    What’s happened to McLaren!?

    • Adrian J (@adrian-j) said on 19th February 2011, 21:47

      They did test at Abu Dhabi and they felt it was more important to get the tyre data in Jerez.

      I suspect there is going to be a bigger difference between the 2 McLaren drivers this year as I think Lewis will be able to drive around any issues with the car’s handling where Jenson just isn’t able to as effectively. And I say that as a Button fan first-and-foremost.

      Let’s see how Lewis does the next 2 days!!

      • SPIDERman (@spiderman) said on 19th February 2011, 22:28

        Bring back Ron dennis …witmarsh is failing…he is busy pleasing sponsers than actually developing a proper race winning car…you can have good drivers but they cannot deliver on a lousy car..like we are all suspecting..may be the case so far

  11. Another great piece from L Graves, watch out Keith She`s after your job:-) . Anyhoo,I was worried up till the moment I read about Button being troubled by oversteer.

    • Sush Meerkat said on 20th February 2011, 9:08

      ,I was worried up till the moment I read about Button being troubled by oversteer.

      LOL, I immediately thought “well business as usual then”.

      If its oversteering for Button then Hamilton should be having a right laugh with the car.

  12. earnst said on 20th February 2011, 0:39

    as Flavio Briatore said several times, it was mclaren team that asked for clarification about mass damper of 2006 renault.

  13. Toro Stevo said on 20th February 2011, 1:23

    Jenson always seems to be setting up excuses for later on as to why he didn’t come first. Since the beginning of last season there’s always something, we’re not quick enough, no rear grip, we’ve got bad luck, we haven’t run enough, Newey’s boys have better toys than ours, they’re cheating (or was that Whitmarsh?).

  14. earnst said on 20th February 2011, 10:37

    it was the same team again that protested mass damper of Renault.

    Flavio : “Ron Dennis was the one who protested us on the mass damper”

  15. The comments on this thread are hilarious.

    People seem to think McLaren have always had the fastest car and that when they don’t it’s all Whitmarsh’s fault and he should be sacked. It’s like the early to mid 90’s and 2000’s never happened.

    McLaren have had slow cars (relative to other established teams) under Ron Dennis too, in fact more often than not.

    The idea Jenson is the cause of the so-so showing of the new car is equally laughable. 2009 still happened without Jenson.

    The panic people have over McLaren is quite funny. My advice would be to sit back and just enjoy the racing. It’s far more fun.

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