25 October 2013
Indian Grand Prix: Button admits baseline was wrong
Jenson Button believes that his Indian Grand Prix weekend is back on track after losing much of the opening practice session while working with a new set-up that was eventually discarded.
Jenson Button has admitted that McLaren's decision to try a radical new suspension set-up on his MP4-28A in opening practice for the Indian Grand Prix was flawed.
Despite recording the sixth best time of the 90-minute session – albeit a position inflated by the problems that beset both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen – Button admitted that the change of strategy had not produced the desired effects, leading him to revert to a more tried and trusted configuration after lunch.
“We tried a number of different set-ups this morning, but I think our baseline was in the wrong place, so they didn't particularly work around this type of circuit,” Button confirmed, “We reverted to more of a traditional set-up for the afternoon, and we developed the car over the course of the day, so we're now getting there, despite the setbacks of the morning. In a way that's positive, though, because it meant that we'd already been getting the best out of the car for the whole year.”
If the opening day at Buddh International proved one thing, it was that Pirelli's tyre choice should make the teams think a little more than they did at the same venue a year ago, with the one-stop strategy of 2012 likely to morph into at least a two-stopper this season.
“The tyres will be very interesting this weekend,” Button confirmed, having had the chance to run both the medium and soft compounds during the day, “The prime tyre seems to last forever, while the option tyre doesn't! There's a very big difference between the two tyre compounds, so I think we'll see some very interesting strategies this weekend.”
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh acknowledged that it had been a slow start to the weekend as McLaren chased ideas down something of a blind alley, but confirmed Button's feeling that the tyres will provide very different characteristics.
“As is very often the case these days, we chose to pack a lot of test and development work into the morning's run-programme,” he noted, “As a result, that meant neither Jenson nor 'Checo' was able to dial their car into the circuit until the afternoon session. Still, we gathered a valuable amount of data from our investigative work during first practice.
“The afternoon also allowed us to start looking a little more deeply at the tyres – and it immediately became clear that the option tyre is going to be quite challenging to manage in the race on Sunday. We got quite a lot of good data today, though, and we've got the tools and the means to drill down and gather some useful findings for the rest of the weekend.”
Sergio Perez eventually wound up as the better-placed of the McLaren drivers, edging Button out of ninth spot on the final timesheet, and admitted that he was 'feeling quite optimistic' for the weekend ahead.
“I'm happy with the balance [of the car] and I'm looking forward to tomorrow,” the Mexican claimed, “We had some issues with the balance of the car during today's sessions, and the prime tyre is definitely working better for us than the option, but we didn't really run it with an optimised car set-up, so I'm not too worried.
“Still, we definitely need to analyse the option tyre's performance tonight, to see how we can improve it. The most important thing is to have good tyres for the race. Overall, I think we're in the same position that we've been in for the last three or four races, so our objective tomorrow will be to have a strong qualifying session and to make it into Q3.”
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