Jenson Button is finding the testing tricky so far, with limited mileage covered and the rapidly degrading tyres meaning the team are behind with their programme. “At the moment I wouldn’t have a clue where we are. It’s not something I thinking about; We haven’t done enough testing – we’re learning about the aero and the systems but I haven’t done any actual testing yet.”
The 2009 champion is already looking ahead to the final pre-season testing – “the next test is very important to find direction with the car.”
Although he isn’t comparing the McLaren to other teams yet, he has been keeping an eye on the performances across the paddock. “Different cars are quick at different times. Depends on tyres and fuel. There isn’t a stand out team at the moment.”
Back to his testing programme, Jenson said that “today was a day of doing brake work, understanding the aero, some other work, system checks and then long runs in the afternoon. The tyres have a lot of degradation. If you drive flat-out, they grain. If you hold back a little, it’s the same result.”
“It’s a difficult situation because it’s cold, abrasive and high-speed – Pirelli don’t make the tyres for these conditions. By lap 3 or 4 the tyres are graining. We put new tyres on for each run and so we’re only getting 2 laps of grip. We’re basically doing qualifying runs, which isn’t ideal”
It’s not all doom and gloom though – “it’s a level playing field, everyone’s in the same position with the tyres.” he went on to say that “the tyres aren’t on a knife-edge, it’s not like last year.” He did add that we won’t be having any one-stop races in 2013, that’s for sure.
We managed to get off the tyre talk and ask Jenson about his new car and how he feels about it (regardless of the tyres) compared with his race-winning MP4-27.
“If we started the season with last years car, we’d probably be ok at the first race – not sure if it would be quicker than this year’s car, but it would be ok, however after 3 or 4 races we’d be at the end of the development curve. That’s why it’s important to change the car over the winter. Of course we are hoping to be competitive in Melbourne, but there’s a poss that teams who have kept the same car may be quicker, I don’t know.”
When pushed further on this topic, he reiterated “It is very tricky to understand where the car is – I did a 1,22.8 on hard tyres, Checo did a 1,21.8 on the softs, but then we had far slower times too – we don’t know where we are and there’s no point comparing ourselves to others at this point.”
He added “It’s not been perfect, we have a lot fo work to do. We want reliability, but the graining lasts until you stop, it doesn’t go away. When the graining is finished there’s no rubber left of the tyres.”