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Button baffled by McLaren malaise

Jenson Button hopes an aggressive Post-Silverstone response to McLaren's dip in form can turn the team's season around.
Jenson Button has admitted to being at a loss when it comes to understanding McLaren's sudden loss of form which saw it scrapping over the minor places in its home grand prix at the weekend.

Although the Woking team has slowly dropped away from the race-winning performance it displayed at the start of the season, Silverstone was something of a nadir for 2012 with both Button and team-mate Lewis Hamilton relegated to bit parts while Red Bull and Ferrari - both of which struggled with their cars at the start of the year - stole the limelight and the top four places.

With the unpredictability of the season also throwing the likes of Lotus and Mercedes into the mix as regular podium threats, McLaren's demise is costing its valuable championship points but, while Button's title challenge was already in freefall after adding just five points from six races to victory in Australia and second in China, Hamilton was also badly hampered by the lack of potential in front of his home crowd on Sunday.

Button's challenge was blunted on Saturday when, after featuring in the top two in the morning's dry free practice session, he was undone by the lottery of wet qualifying and tumbled out at the first hurdle. Although he would eventually start 16th, the 2009 world champion faced a tough task in his quest to bolster his championship tally, and lucked into a single point when Nico Hulkenberg ran wide while battling Bruno Senna on the final lap.

Hamilton, meanwhile, also qualified lower than he would have wanted, in eighth, and, despite appearing to make early progress, found himself back in his original position when the chequered flag fell. To make matters worse, the championship's top two drivers, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber finished in reverse order at the front of the field to extend their advantage over the chasing pack, which was headed by Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari's rejuvenated Felipe Massa.

"We don't have the pace of the top three teams," Button admitted to Reuters, "At the moment, we are racing the Williams, the Sauber and the Force India. I won't take anything away from the guys driving the Williams and the Saubers, but we have a lot of experience in this sport and we feel we are getting the best out of this car now. That's where we are at the moment and, personally, I don't feel they had the best weekend - if the Williams and Sauber had had a good day, they would have beaten us, so we've got a lot of work to do.

The Briton also conceded that the finger of blame for McLaren's disappointing weekend pointed directly at the car, as the team got its strategy and pit-stop procedures right in a race made tricky by the first prolonged dry running of the three days.

"We just didn't have the pace," he confirmed, "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. It is amazing to think what the rest of the guys are driving around in. They must be on rails. I wonder what would happen if you put another driver in this car - I bet they would get a real shock. ...

"We thought we had it right. We had such a great start to the year. It was what everyone said we had to do, we did that - and then it has dropped off. I don't think the top teams have any tricks. We are still struggling with tyre temperatures - I put on hard tyres at the end and was going well but, when I got behind other cars, suddenly my tyre temperature had gone. [The car] didn't grip the circuit - you turn in and it shudders across the circuit."

With McLaren dropping out of the top three positions in the teams' championship, there is a lot of head-scratching to be done ahead of the back-to-back races in Germany and Hungary that take F1 into its mid-season break, but Button is confident that the team can bounce back.

"We've got to improve," he said, "We've got a technical meeting on Tuesday, which is going to be quite a sombre meeting, but [everyone in the meeting is] going to be quite aggressive about trying to improve this car."

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes
08.07.2012- Race, Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-27
Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes
06.07.2012- Free Practice 2, Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-27
06.07.2012- Free Practice 2, Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-27
28.05.2017 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
28.05.2017 - Race, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB13, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08 and Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
28.05.2017 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
28.05.2017 - Race, Mansour Ojeh, Manseur Ojeh, McLaren shareholder and Eric Boullier (FRA) McLaren Racing Director
28.05.2017 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
28.05.2017 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08 leads Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren MCL32
28.05.2017 - Race, Jacky Ickx (BEL), Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren MCL32 and Eddy Merckx
28.05.2017 - Race, Mansour Ojeh, Manseur Ojeh, McLaren shareholder and bEric Boullier (FRA) McLaren Racing Director
28.05.2017 - Race, Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren MCL32
28.05.2017 - Race, Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MCL32
28.05.2017 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
28.05.2017 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08 and Chantelle Winnie (CAN) Top Model
28.05.2017 - Race, Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MCL32 retires from the race

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July 10, 2012 11:38 AM

Unfortunately for JB he is slower than Hamilton over one lap, qualifying proves that theory, last year it wasn't really his fault that Lewis was busy doing other things during races, his job is to take advantage of that, which he did. this year however, this year isn't about how efficient your blown diffuser is, its about how well the driver and his engineer knows the behavior of the pirelli's on 'his' car, mclaren wasted three days of testing through choice, 'believing' they were good enough

oldtimer - Unregistered

July 10, 2012 8:56 AM

Once again McClaren are scratching around mid season trying to improve a mediocre car. It beggers belief that a team that constantly boasts that they are the best and can develop a car faster than any other team can't design a good car in the first place. It's a fact that the tyres are a nightmare for everyone but a lot of teams are starting to get a grip of what is needed. MW said the drivers did a tremendous job at the weekend, if he thinks 8th and tenth place is a tremendous job then perhaps he should seek employment elseware. I have just checked on Wikipedia and had my memory confirmed that it was 1998 when McClaren last won the constructors title. To me that says it all. I hope that this changes because LW and JB are world champions and deserve better than this.

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