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Jenson Button says 2013 McLaren will not win a race without radical change
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Posted By: James Allen  |  18 Mar 2013   |  12:57 pm GMT  |  244 comments

Britain’s Jenson Button says his new McLaren is not capable of winning a grand prix in its current spec after he trailed home ninth in the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The 2009 world champion, who had tasted victory at Albert Park in three of the last four years before Sunday’s race, lacked the pace to contend with the likes of Lotus, Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes.

Kimi Raikkonen went on to take victory for Lotus, ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Red Bull’s reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel while Button took ninth and his team-mate Sergio Perez finished outside the points in 11th.

The 33-year-old said the team need to make radical changes to their 2013 challenger, although there will not be much time to do so before the next race which takes place at Sepang in Malaysia this Sunday.

Button said: “The way the car is at the moment, this package that is sat in the garage right now, is not going to win a race.

“We need to bring updates and move this car forward. That is the only way we will see good results and wins. We can definitely do it. We have been in bad positions before and come back strong.

“It is just a pity we have lost out so much at the start of the year. There have been non-stop meetings and discussions and we are doing everything we can to improve.

“We are going through every single piece of information we have collected this week and over the winter. It is going to be flat out and the team are going to be working non-stop. Everybody is a bit down. A team like this is used to winning.”

Perez, who made his debut for McLaren in Australia, added: “We’re lacking downforce, we’re lacking stability. It’s not only one thing. I think we’ve got a lot of problems. The car is not quick enough and this is our reality.

“We have to keep our heads up. The car has the potential so we have to understand and put it together so we can be fighting for good positions.”

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said they would not be reverting to last year’s car – which won the final race of the season in Brazil with Button at the wheel – for Malaysia. However, he didn’t rule it out for later in the season.

Whitmarsh said: “It is not a serious option for Malaysia – no. I think at the moment we’ve got to work hard on this car.

“We know it’s got some areas of high potential and we know it has potentially more downforce than last year’s car but we’ve all had cars in the past where it’s difficult to get the performance.

“But it was a shock to a degree. I hope and believe we won’t be so far off the frontrunners in Malaysia. But I’m not promising we’ll be with them either. We’ve got to be realistic what can be done in a few days.”

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1

iformula1 mclaren were running a footiballclub they would be shot

2

IF Mclaren were running a football club they would be shot

3

Hi James, I know you commented on Question 7 that bringing out the Mp4-27 was very ‘UnMclaren’. Could you please give me an example. I started following the sport only in 2010 and am not too good on small history such as this. Also, in your opinion what is the chance that it will happen and if it does, will it be effective? Thanks

4

McLaren will bounce back – quality teams always do

One top team usually has to be the loser from any first weekend and it was McLaren’s turn this time.

5

+1, lets hope its a quick time to turn around! Cmon Jenson!!

6

James, I did say Mclaren will struggle the first part of the year – you said “we will see” .My reasons were the new design of the mp4-28 particularly the front pull rod suspension and higher nose would cause similar problems to what Ferrari experienced the first half of last year. Mclaren probably will get it right and most likely will be quick at some point but they will loose 4-7 races before they get close.

I cannot for the life of me understand Mclarens decision to take that gamble in the last year of these current regulations. Sure they need to find more pace – but last years MP4-27 was getting better and better and probably a slight improvement on that would have seen them win at least the first few races of 2013 if not many more.!

Like I said even early last year Hamilton needed to leave that team and it certainly was the right decision regardless of where Mercedes end up. Because they can only go forward and at Mclaren – despite the very best engineers and designers they are still going backwards- they are not “gelling” and Martin Whitmarsh seems frustrated. It does not sound right that the whole team just write themselves off after just 1 race. They only need to take a look at what Fernando & Ferrari did last year, but I just don’t see JB with that same fighting ability.. do you ?

7

I don’t see Jenson moaning, I see him answering a question he was asked. It’s quite visible that the car is a dog. It looks extremely stiff and twitchy under braking. Hopefully they can work to improve it sooner than later so McLaren can be back in the mix. As far as Hamilton is concerned, people saying that he could have had a much better result with this car in Australia only need to go back to 2009 to see how well he coped with the car before it was fixed. I’ll even provide a link if it’s permitted.

http://www.formula1.com/results/driver/2009/828.html

9

***Moderators***

My last post regarding McLaren’s amazing simulator has disappeared into thin air! It was well-crafted, thoughtful, mildly ironic and conjectural with no hint of abuse or snide remark.

I notice that historically you’re happy to publish a steady stream of vituperative rubbish by others aimed personally at the likes Sam Michael and Martin Whitmarsh.

I sincerely hope you don’t encourage and prefer that kind of reply.

10

Sorry. It didn’t make any sense to me.
As for the other comments, we do our best to mod them out, but the odd ones get through. It’s tough when you have 1,000s of comments in a few days

11

Fair enough. I’ll endeavour to be less obtuse in future!

Regarding the other comments I guess one just has to tolerate them in a democratic environment.

12

I didn’t say it was obtuse

I’m sorry I just didn’t get it – it made no sense to me

You are very welcome here as us anyone who wants intelligent discussion and doesn’t insult others

13

Yep, most feared Dennis at McLaren (just take a look at the body language of the crew around him even now when he makes the odd race appearance), but boy did he wield a big stick, respect in spades from the crew.

It’s almost like that team took a holiday when he left. No championship under Whitmarsh yet I think.. Not that he’s a bad manager but he needs to stop smiling for a bit, lol.

14

Bottom line is that they have to stop the rot and fast. Bring back last year’s car and develop the hell out of it. At least it is a known quantity. No one will care that it’s the old car if you’re back to competitiveness. Kimi nearly won the WDC in an “old” McLaren and no one cared that the new car was not ready. If I were Whitmarsh I would swallow my pride and prep the old cars ASAP.

15

When was the last time mclaren started the season without 1 of the best 4 drivers in the sport ? Jenson is a very very good driver but I think Lewis, kimi, Fernando and seb have just that bit more of a skill set and will end up all time greats.

But I have no doubts mclaren will sort it out sooner or later like.

16

Ron Dennis is really in a wrong position with in the McLaren company.

17

I thought Jenson said during the launch that its the best car McLaren has ever produced (correct me if Im wrong). But its along those lines. Now he’s eating his own words…

18

Canada last year. Watch Button’s interview. McLaren building a car around this guy.

19

Time will tell, but this is what I suspected would happen out of the gate. McLaren went for revolution over evolution. They were bound to be a bit behind the cars that were evolutions. Now, the question is whether or not the development potential of the car is greater than if they had stuck with evolution. And, if the potential is there, how quickly can they develop and catch up to the other teams (which will also be developing at the same time). I’d say McLaren have set themselves a pretty tall order.

P.s. I don’t really think JB is whining so much as just telling it like it is. The car is not good enough right now. Sugar coating that will not make it faster…well, maybe it would…not sure that’s been tried before 😉

20

A new incentive to the engineers to “lick that car into shape”

21

No, it wouldn’t. 9 out of 10 scientists agree that sugar is not very aerodynamic.

22

A glaze might be pretty aerodynamic 🙂

23

Good thinking!

I’ll have a talk to Bernie and see if we can get that in the 2014 regulations 🙂

24

Do McLaren still alternate design teams each season? If so, the current car would be by the same team who did the abysmal 2009 car.

I seem to remember that they came in for criticism a couple of years back at the time of the Octopus exhaust experimentation, and some people commented on how their strategy of alternating between design teams every other year caused a lack of continuity.

25

the teams comments about lack of consitancy point to the diffuser /exhaust ramp?

i don’t believe mclarens story that a suspension component was fitted back to front at jerez where button set a good time.

it’s said that mclaren has the most advanced simulator. maybe simulators aren’t as great as everyone claims especially considering the litany of complaints from the drivers.

its not entirely clear that these issues can be fixed. remember when mercedes went the wrong way with its wheelbase and lotus with the side exit exhaust.

as for perez – a driver needs to be in the right car at the right time.

26

You are onto something there. Simulator should have avoided the problems with ride and suspension they suffered in AUS

27

Even Adrian Newey designed lemons for McLaren. They’ve always bounced back. Gotta have the hard times to appreciate the good!

28

That would simply demonstrate that perhaps there is an overall problem with their rules and inside regulations, where now Newey is again flourishing with the freedoms he wants

Lewis didn’t like the ‘controlled’ aspect at McLaren, so perhaps an overall ethos of micro-control is their problem.

29

I suggest F1 push back round 2 next year by one week. We Then have a 3 day post the first race teething / shake out session at Philip Island. That would give teams with issues one chance right at the start of the season to rectify these and bring a better line up for round 2 and better racing for spectators.

Thoughts?

30

Be worth it to see F1 cars around that great track. But, it would cost heaps to bring it up to safety standards. Eastern Creek?

31

McLaren seems very good at developing their way out of a hole (2009, 2011, and even 2012, if you look at the summer slump), but they seem pretty poor at not going into the hole in the first place.

32

+1

33

I know James has said it’s not a “McLaren thing to do” about bringing back the MP4-27 (or an evolution of it). And someone on here has said you can’t run last years car..? Can someone just tell me what they could actually do. Could they re-crash test the MP4-27 and modify it with updates etc to run as well as of instead of the MP4-28. At least that way they’d have one competitive car whilst Perez worked on sorting the MP4-28 out.

34
Bring Back Murray

McClaren need to do something and fast or they’ll end up like Williams did at the end of the 90s and slip into mid-table medicoracy. No world class drivers to speak off at present.

Other new teams coming up and fast – Red Bull already there, Merc and Lotus well on the way.

Too busy building their lovely road cars it seems and have lost focus on what really matters.

As a McClaren fan – sort it!!

35
VP of Common Sense

McLaren have always been extremely resourceful when it comes to developing a car. The MP4-28 needs a lot of work. Woking usually is up to the task. I don’t think anyone should believe that Mercedes will leave McLaren in their wake this season, even with Hamilton in the W04.

36

Not the best start to the season, I agree totally. However, I wouldn’t look too down beat for too long. Mclaren are known for being the best in the development race over a season. Remember 09’s car? Start of the season it had less downforce than the moon. By the end of the season it was winning races.

Disappointing start but still 18 races to go and if they totally balls it up there is always the mp4-27 from last year they can fall back on.

37

James, I read somewhere that McLaren had thought in testing that the car was okay because they had apparently fitted part of the front pull rod suspension incorrectly.

I cant work out how something fitted the wrong way would cause a performance benefit.

Do you know anything about this story and if true, can you explain what was “wrong” but actually made the car better?

I can only imagine it is something to do with the rules, doing something outside the rules by mistake could give you a performance benefit?

38

James, a question if I may.

Simulators:- McLaren were saying that the car was bottoming out over the weekend. With F1 simulators being so far advanced with their ability to replicate different circuits, is the bottoming out and poor handling something that would be identified? Similarly, would the handling in the simulator replicate the expected downforce levels?

39

Good point – very surprising given how good McLaren sim is

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