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
2011 F1 testing
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