Jenson Button was overwhelmed with the turn-around performed by his McLaren-Honda team on Friday’s day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya.

McLaren had completed just seven laps before a hydraulic leak ended their day prematurely on Thursday, however, the 2009 World Champion toured the track 101 times on Friday, the most the car has managed on any single day during this pre-season.

Despite the setbacks the team have faced this winter, Button’s sense of humour was not diminished.

“We made good progress today. It wasn’t hard really [to improve] from yesterday! But it was really nice to do 101 laps.

Button alongside Kevin Magnussen, who will take over driving duties on Saturday. Photo: McLaren-Honda Medai
Button alongside Kevin Magnussen, who will take over driving duties on Saturday. Photo: McLaren-Honda Media

Button is currently F1’s oldest and most experienced driver, and knows how important testing is with regards to forming a stable base for the season ahead.

“Reliability has been great today, a really really big step forward by everyone, big effort by everyone which is great to see. It’s amazing what you get done when you have a reliable car. All the tests that you want to do – the comparisons, the aero work – you can’t do because the car stops halfway through, but we were able to do them today. A lot of positives out of today.

While the apparent resurgence is hugely positive for the team, the Monaco-dweller understands that there is still some work to be done.

“Look at the timing screens – we’re nowhere near quick enough. There’s a lot of progress that has been made today that we can improve on for the next couple of days. All the engineers and aerodynamicists are getting their teeth into what they’ve done today which is good. For most teams, 100 laps isn’t really anything, but for us it’s like 1,000 laps because there’s so much for us still to learn about this package.

I think we’ve made good progress but there’s still a long way to go.

Button takes the final chicane in Barcelona. Photo: Octane Photos
Button takes the final chicane in Barcelona. Photo: Octane Photos

Somerset-born Button is notorious for his smooth driving style, but can only truly exercise that control when the car is exactly to his liking

“There’s a lot of work in terms of the way the car feels, but I’ve not really done a massive amount of setup work, even today. There’s still a lot of work needed to really hone the car to the way that I drive. That’s why I need a good day on Sunday. The feeling is reasonably good, but a work in progress. We’re definitely not where we want to be.

Button brought out a red flag with roughly 40 minutes to go on Friday, but he asserted that there was nothing wrong with the car.

“The stoppage was an electrical issue. When I came back in, one of the mechanics flipped a switch, and it was fine again. I wasn’t going to do any more running anyway, it was just practice pit stops from then on.”

Button will drive the MP4-30 on the final day of the test on Sunday, while Kevin Magnussen will stand in for Fernando Alonso on Saturday.