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Car's potential may not be realised for first race - Button

ESPNF1 Staff
February 28, 2011 « HRT still waits on 2011 car | »
Jenson Button is not sure the McLaren MP4-26 will be on the pace at the first race © Sutton Images
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Jenson Button is not sure the full potential of the McLaren MP4-26 will be unlocked for the start of the season in Australia.

McLaren has not completed as many laps of testing as its rivals in pre-season testing so far, after opting to launch its car after the first test in Valencia. The MP4-26 has had a few reliability issues since then and its pace relative to Ferrari and Red Bull has been hard to determine.

"I have definitely not completed the laps that I expected to and when it comes to developing a new car it is essential to do a lot of kilometres," Button told Autosprint. "This car has a lot of potential, but if the development work is late, there may be a gap in the first races of the championship."

Button said a lot would depend on the final test at Barcelona next week, where all the teams will have their last chance to refine their packages on track before the first race in Australia on March 27.

"It will be an important test for putting everything together, but I think it will be very difficult to get an exact idea of the hierarchy," he said. "I've heard rumours that the Red Bull is six tenths faster than Ferrari, and also that Ferrari are one second faster than everyone on race pace! I think that to get an overall picture we will have to wait until the first race."