Button: We don’t have the pace of the top three teams
10 July, 2012
Jul.10 (Reuters) Jenson Button will be looking for answers when McLaren’s top technical brains meet on Tuesday to try and find out why their car has become so slow, as the Woking team had a deeply disappointing British Grand Prix at Silverstone with Lewis Hamilton, a winner in Canada only last month, finishing eighth and Button 10th.
Button, the 2009 world champion and winner of the season-opening race in Australia, is now a hefty 79 points adrift of Ferrari’s championship leader Fernando Alonso with 11 races remaining. Hamilton is 37 points off the Spaniard’s total.
“We don’t have the pace of the top three teams. At the moment we are racing the Williams, the Sauber and the Force India,” Button said candidly. “That’s where we are at the moment and, personally, I don’t feel they had the best weekend… I feel that if the Williams and Sauber had a good day, they would have beaten us. So we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Button, who has never stood on his home grand prix podium in 13 attempts and who qualified 16th in a rain soaked qualifying, said the team had got their strategy right and the pitstops – so troublesome this season – were perfect. A notably smooth driver, Button has struggled to get crucial heat into the tricky Pirelli tyres but the 32-year-old felt there was much more to it than that.
“We just didn’t have the pace,” he told Reuters. “The balance doesn’t feel too bad, on high speed corners the car is reasonable, on low speed it’s not fantastic but not bad. So when you see a car come past you like you’re just stood still it’s a surprise…I don’t know where we are missing out, I don’t know how so many teams can be getting it right and we can’t.”
McLaren have now slipped from second to fourth in the constructors’ championship, behind Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus – a shock for a team who have finished the last seven seasons in the top three. Hamilton, the 2008 champion who has yet to agree a contract extension after this year, said on Sunday that he feared his title hopes could disappear unless the team picked up the pace.
The next grand prix is at Hockenheim in Germany, on July 22, which Hamilton won last year and where McLaren should have a good upgrade package. Immediately after that comes Hungary, which Button won in 2011.
Button’s next comment could be interpreted as a warning to Whitmarsh that McLaren needs to work hard to improve the below par MP4-27, “I wonder what would happen if you put another driver in it?”
“I bet they would get a real shock,” mused Button.
“We’ve got to improve. We’ve got a technical meeting on Tuesday which is going to be quite a sombre meeting but we’re going to be quite aggressive, everyone in the meeting, about trying to improve this car,” concluded Button.
Subbed by AJN.
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