Jenson Button insists that, despite its car's obvious shortcomings, McLaren should approach this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix in optimistic mood.
The Woking team received a welcome shot in the arm with a double points finish in the recent Monaco Grand Prix, with Fernando Alonso equalling its best result following the reunion with Honda power in fifth place, but, at first glance, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve would not appear to suit the MP4-31. Button, however, begs to differ, claiming that the 2016 machine could be a surprise this weekend.
“Although this is one of the fastest circuits on the calendar, and very power-hungry, one of the strengths of our chassis is stability under heavy braking, so we shouldn't be fearful of going to a circuit like this and finding ourselves on the back foot,” the 2009 world champion explained, “Our development rate is steep and there's huge work going on behind the scenes to constantly improve the performance of our whole package, so I'm excited to see how we perform in Canada, given how different the circuit's characteristics are compared to Monaco.”
Button is also something of a weapon on the Ile Notre Dame, having produced one of F1's best rags-to-riches stories with his comeback win five years ago, and the Briton is looking forward to returning this weekend, even if points, rather than podiums, will be the likely aim.
“Although Monaco is an adopted home for me, the race weekend there is always a massive whirlwind, so heading to Canada will be a completely different feeling, and I'm looking forward to the relaxed atmosphere,” he smiled, “We had good reliability in Monaco, and both Fernando and I managed to keep it on the black stuff in some pretty crazy conditions, so I'm hoping the [Montreal] weather will throw up a few more surprises and we can get stuck in on track.
“It's no secret that I absolutely love this circuit, and it's the scene of one of my best race wins - 2011 is definitely up there among my favourites. It's a real racer's circuit: tough on cars, tough on drivers, and usually produces stunning racing, whatever the weather. Leaving the final corner unscathed after passing the 'Wall of Champions' always feels like an achievement so let's hope we can achieve that 70 times on Sunday!”