Jenson Button's disappointment at failing to finish last weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix was exacerbated by the circuit being one of those thought to suit the McLaren-Honda combination, but the Briton is hoping to bounce back in Germany as Hockenheim brings a close to a crowded month and the first half of the 2016 F1 season.
Early brake problems, and a penalty for the radio exchange with his team as he attempted to avoid an incident and rectify the problem, only served a precursor to Button's eventual retirement with ten laps to run in Budapest. Having qualified in the top ten with team-mate Fernando Alonso, it was galling for the 2009 world champion to note that the Spaniard scored points, knowing that he could also have been in the top ten, but Button remains optimistic that the back-to-back close to the month could yield a return on his part in McLaren's slow recovery.
“Last Sunday in Hungary was a big disappointment on my side of the garage,” the veteran confirmed, “We showed a lot of promise throughout the weekend leading up to the race but, on Sunday, it seemed that everything that could go wrong, did. Still, that's part of racing and Fernando has had his share of bad luck over the past few races, so it was good he was able to get some points and maintain a good pace.
“I hope we can regain our form in Germany and enjoy a positive race for both cars before the summer break. After last weekend, the main thing we need to focus on is reliability. If we have that, it at least puts us in a position to see where we are on track and be in the hunt for points. Hopefully, the weekend will throw up a surprise or two, and we can both have a smooth weekend.”
After three straight scoring appearances earlier in the season, Button has not added to his tally since taking sixth place in Austria at the start of July, and he knows that the reconfigured Hockenheimring won't necessarily play to the strengths of his MP4-31, but he hopes to remain in contention around a track that often produces close racing.
“Although Hockenheim has had two different configurations over the years, there's a lot of history there,” he recalls, “I remember the craziness of the old configuration – huge straights and fiddly chicanes, which made set-up a tricky compromise – and this layout is very different.
“There are a couple of decent overtaking opportunities, so you don't just need to rely on DRS and a good slipstream on the straights, so it's an enjoyable challenge. The asphalt is smooth, and will hopefully rubber in nicely over the course of the weekend, as you need good grip to have any chance of making up ground.
“Our car is strong under heavy braking but, despite the long, sweeping corners and fast straights, this isn't as much of a necessity there as in Hungary. We're expecting it to be a tricky weekend as the best-placed cars are the ones with the highest straight-line speeds, but we'll see what we can do. The MP4-31 is well balanced and has good traction out of the corners, so we might be able to make up some time around a lap...”