Jenson Button says he does not expect McLaren to be able to compete with Red Bull and Ferrari from the first race of the new season.
Speaking to journalists following today’s test at the Circuit de Catalunya he said: “I don?óÔé¼Ôäót think we are as quick as the Red Bulls and I don?óÔé¼Ôäót know about Ferrari.
“The car felt relatively good and it would have been nice to have had more time to change the set-up. I feel a lot more at home in the car at this test.
“We worked a little on longer runs this afternoon with high fuel, which we have made progress on. It?óÔé¼Ôäós a pity I only have one more day in the car, I would have liked more, but that?óÔé¼Ôäós all I?óÔé¼Ôäóve got so I?óÔé¼Ôäóll have to make the most of it.?óÔé¼?Ø
?óÔé¼?ôI will be surprised if we can match the Red Bull or Ferrari when we get to Melbourne, that?óÔé¼Ôäós a big ask considering the mileage we?óÔé¼Ôäóve had compared to them and the pace from the last test. It?óÔé¼Ôäós going to be tricky but never say never.
“I?óÔé¼Ôäóm quite impressed with the steps forward we have made. With more work on the set-up this week we?óÔé¼Ôäóll see how close we can get to them.”
He added: “There?óÔé¼Ôäós still work needed to be as quick as a Red Bull or a Ferrari and one or two teams but we are moving forward so that?óÔé¼Ôäós a good feeling. The guys have done a great job working on the cars performance and reliability.
“This is only the first day of a four day test, we hope for a lot more mileage tomorrow. The laps I actually spent on the circuit today on low and high fuel, were quite good improvements after what I experienced at the last test. It?óÔé¼Ôäós not perfect and it?óÔé¼Ôäós not ready for the first race but we have to be happy with the progress made.”
Given their form in testing so far Button said it wouldn’t be bad if their car was only the third-quickest to begin with: “You?óÔé¼Ôäóre not going to be happy being the third fastest team.
“However, I don?óÔé¼Ôäót think it would be that bad to third quickest team at the start of the season as you can do a lot from that position. Considering last few tests, we would be relatively happy if we were third fastest team.
“There are no guarantees we are. I haven?óÔé¼Ôäót got a clue who is up there, you can obviously say Ferrari and Red Bull are very consistent. There have been many other cars setting quick times on different days so if you can be up in third position, that?óÔé¼Ôäós a good thing at the moment.
“Getting points at the early stage of the year is so important, you can gain a haul of points whilst others around you are struggling to figure out where they are.?óÔé¼?Ø
Button played down suggestions the team were having more difficulty than others in making their tyres last: “I don?óÔé¼Ôäót think we have worse tyre wear than others. I think even those cars who appear to have more downforce than us are still having degradation with their tyres, as that?óÔé¼Ôäós the way the tyres are designed. I think everybody is struggling with degradation, it?óÔé¼Ôäós an area I think we are all working on to make the best of what we have.
“It?óÔé¼Ôäós going to be very important when we get to Melbourne, it?óÔé¼Ôäós a F1 car and you want to push it as hard as you can. Sometimes it feels you can do that and suddenly you don?óÔé¼Ôäót have the grip any more. It?óÔé¼Ôäós a difficult situation and I think those drivers who understand the tyre well will perform well at the first race.”
Button said the team ran their new exhaust today but may not use it throughout the rest of the test.
He also explained the unusual bulge on the car’s nose seen briefly during today’s test: ?óÔé¼?ôDid you like the nose? I actually quite like it. It was quite fast so I might ask to keep it.
“Our nose is quite low compared to a lot of cars, we can see fine. You can see the car moving a lot which is quite strange to see.
“It?óÔé¼Ôäós a device that?óÔé¼Ôäós checking out certain things on the car, I don?óÔé¼Ôäót think it?óÔé¼Ôäós anything we?óÔé¼Ôäóll be racing. We should have said it?óÔé¼Ôäós a new part really, I even went quicker with it!”
Quotes and additional reporting by Leandra Graves
2011 F1 testing
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- Vergne completes third day on top in Abu Dhabi
- Young Drivers Test Day 2 in pictures
- Vergne stays quickest on second day of test
- Italian F3 pair complete Ferrari test
- Jean-Eric Vergne leads first day of young drivers test
- McLaren cover least test distance with new car
- Rosberg: Mercedes are “on the up”
- Second Barcelona test day 5 in pictures
- Hamilton: reliability and pace concerns for McLaren
Image ?é?® Pirelli