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McLaren hopeful it has identified cause of Button's struggles
McLaren's operations director Simon Roberts is hopeful that the team has discovered some "very subtle" differences between its cars that could help solve Jenson Button's recent problems.
Button has only scored two points in the last four grands prix and has failed to make it in to the final part of qualifying in the last three. Button's struggles were accentuated when he finished 16th in Canada while Lewis Hamilton won the race, but Roberts told a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in that the team had discovered some potential causes ahead of the European Grand Prix.
"I think Canada was very interesting because fundamentally we run the same car for both drivers and they both have the same parts available," Roberts said. "Although we allow them to adapt the set-up to their driving style, clearly we had something fundamentally different in terms of the tyre performance and car performance. We've been able to actually capitalise on that and there's been a huge amount of work back at the factory analysing the data and just checking that everything was as we thought it was.
"We're pretty sure at the moment that there was nothing untoward with Jenson's car and actually nothing fundamentally wrong with the set-up, but in the subtlety of these cars at the moment there are differences, and I think going in to Valencia we're quite optimistic that - having identified that - I think we can have a slightly different way of getting Jenson's car under him for qualifying and for the race."
When asked what the differences are, Roberts refused to go in to detail, but stressed it was so small that the team was cautious how much progress it would make with Button in Valencia.
"I'm not going to go in to exactly what they were but they are very very subtle. This isn't big stuff like fundamentally running a different aero balance or anything like that, this is absolutely down buried in the detail and I think you've seen already this year how teams can get right in the sweet spot of the tyres or miss it. I don't think we were far off (in Canada), there was nothing fundamentally wrong with his set-up but on the day it clearly delivered a different level of performance. So we think we're a step nearer to understanding it all, but whether we've got it cracked yet only time will tell. Definitely a painful but interesting learning exercise for us."