Jenson Button has said McLaren will be aiming for a better during the 2014 F1 season in the wake of a woeful 2013.
Despite that though, the Englishman has conceded that with the regulations changing so much, it is difficult to predict just who will be quick and who will ultimately be challenging for honours. His comments come following the online launch today [Friday] of the new McLaren MP4-29.
“Obviously, we want to get back to the front. We want to have a better season than we did in 2013, too. But it's really difficult to accurately predict anything right now – these are such huge changes that they'll have a massive impact on the competitive order, so we need to wait and just see how things shake out,” he stated.
“Our aim must be to have a smooth and productive winter; I'm very keen to learn all about the new formula and our new car, and I want us to be in a position where we head to the opening flyaways feeling comfortable with our package, yet still ready to absorb and learn more as we go.
“I don't think anybody's anticipating the next few months to be easy – I can't imagine anybody in the pitlane would admit to that – but our aim must be to make progress all the time, and to learn positively as we go.”
Despite all the changes, however, Button isn't worried about getting to grips with the new V6 turbo-charged engines and with the new energy recovery systems: “It's part of the job of a F1 driver [to adapt]. I've spent my whole career jumping from different specification cars – I've driven V10s, V8s, I've raced on grooved tyres, on slicks, with KERS, with DRS, with traction control, without it, with refuelling, without it. I'm still here!” he explained.
“Obviously, there's a period of adaption, but the way I drive – working upwards to find the grip level, rather than working downwards – has always made it quite a seamless transition. As a driver, it's just an exciting time.
“I'm really looking forward to it – I love the mental challenge of tackling such a complex task; there's so much to get your teeth into, and the prospect of problem-solving, and pulling apart difficult concepts and drilling down to find the best solution – that really motivates me.”
Looking ahead to testing next week, Button added it will be the start of a long process of getting to grips with the new cars.
“I don't think anybody will be coming out of this first test feeling certain that they've cracked this new formula,” Button continued. “I think it'll be more of a case of slowly peeling away successive layers as the engineers and designers gather more information and gain an understanding of how the cars and power-units are behaving; and we'll see that being gradually refined throughout the forthcoming tests and into the opening races.
“I think this formula is too big, and too complex, for a single team to feel secure about getting everything right and quickly establishing an advantage. It's about diligently chipping away at it.”
“There will be lots of things going through my mind when I settle myself into the cockpit for the first time in Jerez next week, but, above all else, what I'll be looking for is that simple, positive feeling you get from knowing that the car beneath you is a solid platform; one you can work with, and one you can develop throughout the season,” he concluded.