Jenson Button says he is not surprised by McLaren’s poor showing during qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix, considering how things panned out for the team in pre-season testing.
McLaren was plagued with reliability issues related to the chassis and the Honda power units during the winter which are yet to be sorted. As a result, the team didn’t run their engine to full power and trailed pace setters Mercedes by over three seconds in today’s qualifying.
"This level of performance wasn’t a surprise for us: we knew from winter testing that the pace wasn’t there, so we knew we weren’t going to be competitive here," he said.
"However, there’s a good feeling about the car – I know we’re so far off, but the basic car is there beneath me, and we’re adding to our experience and learning with every lap we do. And that’s really impressed me – we’ve gone through our first race weekend together, and we’ve managed to solve each issue that’s confronted us.
Having not completed a single race simulation, Jenson Button is braced for a tough Sunday in Melbourne.
"It’s going to be a really difficult race for us – we haven’t done a race distance yet, and my longest run is 12 laps – but we want to do the best we can because there’s so much learning to be had."
McLaren teammate Kevin Magnussen also has his heads down and is only aiming to make it to the chequered flag.
"For tomorrow’s race, we’re not really focused on getting points – they’re not really on the cards for us – but we’ll go racing tomorrow to try and learn,’’ said the Dane. “We haven’t done a full race distance yet, so progress tomorrow will be important. If we can finish, we’ll learn a lot; and, even if we don’t, there’ll still be something useful to take home."