Jenson Button says he leaves Barcelona content with the work produced at pre-season testing by McLaren-Honda but feels he is still not race-ready with the 2016 season opener two weeks away.
The British driver has completed a total of 376 laps over his four days in the McLaren-Honda at Circuit de Catalunya, producing a best lap time of 1m 24.714s, which demonstrates the remarkable improvement the team has made 12 months on after enduring a nightmare winter as it struggle with the unreliable Honda power unit.
Having largely sorted the reliability the team is still seeing a more powerful engine to close the deficit to its rivals, it enabled Button to run through a vast amount of aerodynamic tests, set-up tweaks and performance runs. The 2009 F1 world champion says the information gained will become hugely beneficial for the team in the long run but feels he hasn't settle on a set-up with the MP4-31 he is comfortable to race with.
“It's positive to finish our testing programme on a good note, with 121 laps,” Button said. “It's meant we've been able to look at a number of different aerodynamic configurations, and learn a lot about the car and how it behaves, which is really useful given that there's only 10 days until we fly to Melbourne.
“It's great that we've been able to complete a lot of mileage over the two tests, it's also allowed us to do a lot more system checks and integration – which gives us a definite advantage in terms of preparation compared to last year.
“We still have a lot of work to do, and the windy conditions have made it quite difficult to really work on the set-up of the car, but it's something we've all had to deal with. This afternoon, as we got more laps under our belt, we started to get to grips with the balance and handling, and evaluate different options for the first race.
“I still don't feel like we're ready – there are still a lot of changes that will be made on the car before it's in full race trim – and you always seem to need more testing than you have, to find the balance you want for the first race, but we have the experience to do that when we get to Melbourne.”
Button will be helping for a similar turnaround in performance in Australia compared to last year when Kevin Magnussen, stand-in for the injured Fernando Alonso, did not start the race due to mechanical faults, while the Brit struggled to an underwhelming 11th.