As McLaren prepares to race with its blown diffuser for the first time this weekend in Germany, Jenson Button admits that the team has work to do to get ahead of Red Bull on pace – with the defending F1 champion admitting that the Milton Keynes-based squad will be hard to beat.
While Lewis Hamilton and Button hold the top two places in the drivers' championship and have helped McLaren to top the constructors' standings, Red Bull has clearly got the quicker car, with McLaren hoping that the introduction of its blown diffuser at Hockenheim will allow them to close the performance gap.
The relationship between the two McLaren drivers has been in stark contrast to the relationship between Webber and Vettel and has been seen as a key factor in the success of the Mercedes-powered team thus far in 2010, but Button admitted that it was the rival team that still has the quicker car.
“Lewis and myself get on pretty well, and we also work together pretty well,” he told the official F1 website. “We like to drive a very similar car, so the information that we share is key to our performances. Maybe it's just a play from the Red Bulls and they get on really well and they want us to feel as if we were in a better position. But whatever there is, either it makes them stronger or weaker, I don't know. What I know for sure is that they are driving a very quick car, and that is the car to beat at the moment.”
One area where Button will need to improve this weekend in Germany is qualifying after a below par showing in recent races, although he admitted there were a number of reasons for his recent problems.
“In Valencia I clearly made a mistake, as I guess I would have been alongside Lewis on the grid if not,” he said, “and at Silverstone it was the balance - I had a lot of oversteer in high speed corners, so it was very hard to balance it. So little things can make a big difference, especially if the tyres are not in the window of performance, and I don't want this to happen again. I am going to be working very hard this weekend to make sure the qualifying pace is there.
“But in the end I have to beat Lewis in the race, and not only in qualifying, as qualifying is not where the points are. Of course being in the front would make my life easier in the race. Still, Lewis is not the only one to beat - it's also the Red Bulls. If they keep their heads together, it will be very difficult to beat them. They still keep winning, but luckily it's a different driver each time.”