It has been a very difficult season for Jenson Button
but after the opening day of practice in Abu Dhabi, the 2009 world champion showed some encouraging signs and ended the day seventh fastest.
Button, who has never finished outside the top four at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, looked confident in the car throughout both sessions and afterwards he was pleased with the balance of the car and his performance:
"It was a pretty good session in terms of understanding the car but we lost some time with what we thought was a puncture," the McLaren
The Englishman however was not losing sight of the problems that have plagued McLaren
all season and admitted that it would only be after qualifying that a true picture would emerge for him.
"At the moment it's an improvement, but we'll see tomorrow in qualifying,” he said. “The car is feeling okay here and when I went out on the soft tyre I got my time on the first lap, which a lot of people didn't, so I'm happy about that."
The unique nature of this race running at dusk means that there is little to be gained from FP1, where track conditions are vastly different to those faced by the teams in qualifying and the race. The first session of the weekend was held under clear blue skies with the sun baking the desert track, whereas the evening session saw the sun set and temperatures drop producing very different demands on the track.
Owing to the change in conditions between sessions and his problem with the suspected puncture Button admitted that he was still unsure of the ultimate race pace of the McLaren.
"The second sessions is more representative [of race conditions] because the first session is too hot and qualifying and the race are done at dusk,” he said, “so FP2 is always a lot more representative. The longer runs were a bit tricky because of traffic and I didn't really have enough time to do them with the issues that we had. I used a new prime tyre this afternoon, so there won't be a massive amount of running for me in FP3."by Stephen English at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi