Jenson Button says he must decide whether to run an old or new engine for day two of the Canadian Grand Prix meeting after a troubled start to practice eventually yielded the seventh-best time.
The 2009 world champion ended the morning session with his MP4-31 belching ominous black smoke following an oil leak, and his mechanics spent the ensuing lunch break fitting an older Honda V6 into the back of the #22 machine in order for Button to complete his day one preparations in the afternoon. That he managed to quickly climb the order and wind up seventh overall was a positive for the Briton, but he admits that the team cannot afford to relax.
“We had lots of issues this morning, many different issues and it was a very unlucky morning,” Button sighed, “We actually changed the engine from FP1 to FP2 and the guys did an amazing job. We got out a little bit late but we managed a reasonable amount of running in FP2, so it was not too bad and we ended up in P7.
“The car is enjoyable to drive but there's obviously a set of issues we need to resolve and we'll be doing that tonight. We put the old engine back in for the afternoon and we had no issues, so we just have to decide tonight what engine we'll run tomorrow, the new one that we put in today or the engine we used in the previous two races… We'll see tonight but, either way, we'll be fine.”
Despite his optimism, Button was making no predictions about McLaren's potential going forward, noting just how tightly-packed the F1 midfield was around the Ile Notre-Dame.
“I said before that people would be surprised by our performance on this track and I don't think we'll be worse than we were in Monaco this weekend,” he pointed out, “The car feels good, but there's still a lot of improvements needed.
“It's very close in the middle of the pack - if I'd gone half a tenth quicker, I would have been fourth and, if I'd been 0.2s slower, I would have been tenth or twelfth, so it is very close and it will be all about maximizing what we have here.”
While team-mate Fernando Alonso pondered the merits of actually missing the cut for the final phase of qualifying, given the unpredictable forecast for Sunday, Button insisted that the improvements to the McLaren in Montreal would probably be viewed better on raceday.
“Getting into Q3? We'll see…,” he smiled, “We cannot aim to be in the top five, definitively not. We don't have an engine upgrade, just a new turbo charger and the change was done not for performance, but to get more efficiency and it will only benefit us in the race. We also have a new fuel here, which gives a tenth of a second and that obviously helps, so you've got to aim high and we're going to try and get the best qualifying we've had all year. Doing it here would be great.”