Jenson Button believes the Spanish Grand Prix will provide a 'useful benchmark' for McLaren, although he has attempted to play down the importance of the upgrades the team will take to the fifth round in the F1 2013 World Championship.
The Woking-based outfit's struggles with the MP4-28 have been well documented and well the pressure is on if they are to try and get back on terms with the likes of Red Bull Racing, Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes, Button himself seems pretty philosophical. Indeed he is mindful that any improvements will take time and won't be achieved in the three week interval between Bahrain and Spain.
“There's been a lot of talk about the importance of next weekend's upgrades; but, as with every upgrade, they're simply part of the series of continuous improvement that are made across the season,” Button explained.
“As always, there'll be elements of it that work, elements that perhaps work in a different way to what we'd anticipated, and elements that don't work, or perhaps require further work. That's life in modern F1.”
“It's been difficult for the team to make consistent progress through the first four [flyaway] races [in Australia, Malaysia, China and Bahrain], but I think returning to a circuit where we undertook two of the pre-season tests will give us a useful benchmark of our progress so far,” he added.
Thus far this season, Button has only managed to score 13 points and he is currently tenth in the Drivers' Championship - his best finish to date a fifth place in China. Despite that, however, he is still looking forward to start of the European season.
“Spain always feels like a fresh start to the year. Suddenly, you're back in Europe, the motorhomes and transporters are all lined up in the paddock, and it feels like a second home for everyone,” he continued.
“[All-in-all] I'm pragmatic about what we'll discover next weekend, although of course, I'm hopeful that it'll move us a step closer towards the destination.”
McLaren team principal, Martin Whitmarsh meanwhile is hoping for a 'productive' weekend: “The pace of life in F1 never relents, and it's incredible to think that our return to Europe next week will see a quarter of the 2013 championship already gone,” he remarked.
“As with last year, form at the start of the season is still somewhat volatile and unpredictable; last year's Spanish Grand Prix saw an unexpected but worthy winner in Pastor Maldonado, and while it would be difficult to see another left-field runner emerging as a contender for victory, the formbook is still hard to read.
“We are pushing ahead to develop MP4-28, and will be hoping for a productive weekend that will allow us to gather a useful data set for the races ahead.”