• Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

McLaren confident it has left soft tyre struggle in India

ESPN Staff
November 1, 2012 « Kobayashi 'confident' he will get a drive in 2013 | Vettel wary of reliability issues »
Both McLarens struggled in the race in India © Sutton Images

McLaren is confident it will not have the same problems with the soft tyres at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend as it did in India.

McLaren struggled to match the pace of its rivals in the opening stint of last weekend's Indian Grand Prix, which all the top teams ran on soft tyres. After the race Jenson Button said: "I really struggled with the soft tyre with rear movement and I was destroying the front tyres", although the car's balance was much better on the hard compound in the second stint of the race.

McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe believes India was a one off and that his team should not have the same issue on the soft and medium compound tyres at Yas Marina this weekend.

"We very much hope not, but it was a particularly bad problem for us in India," he told the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. "There is something about the nature of that track that seems to be quite unusual so we're optimistic that won't reoccur here. We've had that compound in previous races this season and it hasn't been a problem so hopefully it won't be a problem this weekend."

Button expanded on Lowe's optimism, saying McLaren's pace was limited by front tyre degradation in India but that that would not be the case in Abu Dhabi where he expects the top teams to be more closely matched.

"I think, as you've seen at the last few races, the Red Bull, the Ferrari and our car have been relatively strong," he said. "Maybe Ferrari and us have not been as strong as the Red Bull, but this is a very different type of circuit to India. It's not front limited here, rear [tyres] will be the limitation here. It's going to be very competitive here and I think a couple of other teams that have been strong in the latter stages of the season will be strong as well."

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton looked set for a podium in India, but struggled to pass Mark Webber in the closing stages of the race. However, Lowe puts that down the characteristics of the circuit too, rather than the DRS overtaking aid failing to do its job.

"In terms of overtaking the DRS was particularly ineffective there," he said. "A lot of people were stuck behind cars for a long period of time and I think Kimi [Raikkonen] was the most extreme example of that. When you saw, let's say Lewis at the end trying to overtake Webber, the particular issue seemed to be that you could set yourself up and gain some time in first sector with the DRS and then because of the following cornering sequences you lost that gap again and you never got quite close enough to make it count. There's something about that circuit that we need to study to see if we can make the DRS effective round there. There are a lot of circuits where it works quite well, so there are some subtleties that need to be understood."

But Lowe conceded that Yas Marina this weekend might also suffer from a dearth of overtaking.

"Abu Dhabi has also been one of the more difficult ones on the calendar for overtaking, even with DRS. If that's the case again that doesn't disprove my point [that races the DRS is still working] because I would have said this would be another one that's quite tough for overtaking."