- German Grand Prix
Button puts faith in latest updates
Jenson Button believes McLaren's updates for this weekend's German Grand Prix should allow him to get back in the mix with Red Bull and Ferrari.
Since his podium at the Chinese Grand Prix, Button has failed to finish higher than eighth at the following six races. He initially blamed set-up problems but in recent races it has become apparent that McLaren's rivals have stolen a march with new updates.
"We haven't got slower," Button told reporters at Hockenheim, "it's just that other people have found themselves or made good improvements. The first few races of the year I didn't feel like teams like Lotus had it sorted and had it together, but now they're looking very strong - the same as a few of the teams. But you'd have to say Ferrari and Red Bull have really stepped forward compared to everyone else and I think that's just big updates. For us we haven't had a big enough update to really be in the mix, but here we should get that update."
Button said that Red Bull and Ferrari had built a clear lead over recent races and that McLaren has found itself in the middle of a pack of cars fighting to be the fourth fastest.
"I personally feel that Fernando should have won the last race, but sticking the option tyres on at the end was an unusual strategy - very strange. But I personally think that the Ferrari is very quick and since Barcelona, when they had their upgrade, the car's been on the pace and they've made the most of it. So it's those two teams at the front and then you've got the Lotus behind and then a gaggle of cars including the Mercedes, the Sauber, ourselves, the Williams and Force India almost."
Asked about McLaren's Hockenheim updates, Button said: "I hope that it takes up back to the front. If you look at our degradation compared to some of the quicker teams, which also includes Sauber, we are weaker in that area. Some of it is because they have got more downforce than us, they have a slightly better car at the moment, but some of it is set-up and that's something we're working on this weekend - to try and improve our long-run pace. That's a definite weakness because qualifying seems to be a little bit better than race pace, which is a little unusual for this team."
But Button is confident he has put the worst of his set-up woes behind him over the past two races.
"The last race was a tough race, but I felt that my feeling in the car was good and we did a good job on our side of the garage. That was obviously an issue for a couple of races, but I don't feel that [issue] is there anymore. We have a lot of confidence in the car, we're just not quick enough. We can get a reasonably good balance but we just can't get the overall pace. So I'm reasonably confident with how things are going on our side of the garage."
He added: "If there is one thing we struggle with the most it's tyre temperature. We've tried so many different things and we have tyre temperature now, but you've got to be careful because you might be making other areas weak on the car in trying to get tyre temperature. So that's the weakness with us at the moment. Some teams don't have that, but you normally luck into that. Last year we were the opposite and we could get the tyre working very easily. But you don't know until you start testing in February and then throughout the year you keep that all year because it's the geometry of the car and the way the car works. You can luck in to getting good tyre temperature."
Earlier this week McLaren held a meeting to discuss the issues with the car and how to improve them going forward. Button said the meeting had been positive overall.
"On Tuesday we had a technical briefing, a look back at the last few races and a look to the future. Obviously there were quite a few negative comments because we are not doing as well as we had hoped to do, but there was also a lot of positive energy about the future races because here we come with mechanical upgrades, aero upgrades and hopefully they are going to work well. I have belief that they will; they are very straightforward and it's nothing to do with the complicated exhaust blowing. Hopefully we'll put them on and just go faster. Whether it will be enough I don't know but it's a pretty good chunk."