• Chinese Grand Prix - FP2

McLaren progress fails to meet expectations

ESPN Staff
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Jenson Button says McLaren is still struggling with the same issues © Getty Images
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After Friday practice for the Chinese Grand Prix, Jenson Button says McLaren has not made the step forward it had hoped for this weekend.

McLaren has brought new parts to the car in Shanghai, including a new front wing, floor and exhaust, but despite three weeks of trying to address the problems it faced at the opening rounds, Button does not think there has been a major improvement.

"The feeling is that, while there are some improvements, it is not as much as expected at the moment," he said. "The issues with car are still the same issues we had with the car at the opening races and we need to sit down and look at the data. It's been a long day of testing for Checo and myself and there's a lot to look through. The car feels a little bit better in the areas where we are struggling but it's not a big leap forward, no."

Button finished both practice sessions sixth but does not think that is representative of where McLaren will end up this weekend.

"I don't think so. It was different people in front of us each time and I just think they are running different fuel loads. I feel that we are getting the best out of the car every time we get out there but we just don't have as much pace as we like, which is the same for most people on the grid when you compare them to the Mercedes. We came here with some new parts and everybody worked really hard to bring them here."

Asked whether he might struggle to make Q3, Button added: "I think the aim has to be Q3 for us. We were sixth in both sessions which looks great but there are so many cars that haven't shown where they are because they were running more fuel than us. Hopefully we can improve the car overnight."

The teams are racing with the soft compound tyre for the first time this weekend and Button said it had thrown up a few surprises in the opening two practice sessions.

"We did a lot of set-up work on the prime tyre [medium], which is very useful because we'll be using that tyre a lot in the race," he said. "But then you stick on the option tyre it transforms the car completely. On one lap there is so much more grip but then it grains front and rear and you lose a second a lap. I think there was a lot of complaining about the tyres at the last race but it's even more extreme here in terms of degradation.

"You would say that that tyre is more the feeling that we've had in the winter than at the first few races. So it's extreme degradation and from a tyre that's doing a 1:35 in qualifying spec, after eight laps in the race it is doing a 1:48. That's a big difference and we're slower than a GP2 car by about five seconds - that's strange to see and I think it's too much degradation."