Button: McLaren’s current form is “embarrassing”
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 May 2013   |  3:38 pm GMT  |  104 comments

Britain’s Jenson Button has described McLaren’s current form as “embarrassing” following the Spanish Grand Prix where he finished eighth, one place ahead of team mate Sergio Perez.

McLaren, who won the final race of last season with what was considered to be the fastest car on the grid, made major changes to their machine for 2013, while their rivals took an evolutionary approach.

As a result, they have dropped down the grid and currently lie sixth in the constructors’ championship, 102 points behind leaders Red Bull while Button is best placed in the drivers’ standings 64 behind leader Sebastian Vettel.

The team brought a number of updates to Spain but the team still struggled with Perez qualifying ninth and Button 14th. Overall, the team were 0.3 seconds slower in qualifying than in 2012. That compares to Mercedes who were 2.1 seconds quicker while Lotus and Ferrari were generally 1.2 seconds faster.

In the race, the team actually achieved the same finishes as last year. In 2012, Lewis Hamilton finished eighth, ahead of Button. In 2013, Button headed Perez in the same positions.

Interestingly, Button finished 79 seconds down on the leader at the chequered flag in 2013, compared to Hamilton finishing 78 seconds adrift in 2012. Perez finished 81 seconds behind in ninth, compared to Button who finished 85 seconds adrift in the same position the previous year.

Button’s fastest race lap was 1.7 seconds slower than the fastest, set by Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez, and 1.3 seconds off the best set by race winner Alonso. Perez, who did a four-stop strategy, had a best race lap which was seven tenths quicker than Button who did just three stops.

Button said: “It was a bit embarrassing for us because we are not doing a good enough job. We’ve got so much support from the fans. We are doing everything we can to get to the front.

“The formation lap was very slow for some reason but the leader can dictate the pace. It really hurt us in terms of tyre temperatures so the start of the race was tough.

“I got a bad start and dropped back to 17th. I was in a whole world of pain as I couldn’t get any tyre temperature. Once we moved to the harder of the two compounds, the car felt much better.”

McLaren’s sporting director Sam Michael says the team’s problems are partly down to data from the windtunnel not correlating with data from the car on track. It is a problem similar to that which affected Ferrari last year and contributed to their disappointing start to the season.

“You have all these simulation tools and you are constantly trying to close the loop between them and trackside,” said Michael. “I guess with what McLaren have done this year, we took some big changes over the winter and some of those areas in those tools have shown weaknesses because they haven’t predicted thing properly.

“If you look at where our pace has been in the last couple of races, we’ve been about six tenths off in terms of race pace. If you were six tenths off in the 90s, you’d still come second or third.

“Now you come 10th so the game has changed. It tells you that the tools are better than they used to be but small errors will result in much bigger changes on track.”

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It was in papers the other day that Ron Dennis and Martin Whitmarsh have daggers plunged into each others back. And the board of directors at Mclaren, and Mumtalakat group are extremely unhappy with Ron Dennis and want him out of Mclaren.

With engine changes for next year, Mercedes having their own works team and a company grappling with internal politics, Mclaren may well go the Williams way unless they make some dramatic changes.


It’s amazing how distracting that kind of thing can be when you are trying to do well in a competition against tough opposition.

When you have a happy team with no problems you can focus 100% of your effort on trying to win.


Still think they actually need to stick with this Cat and sort out the Problems. Going back to Last Year’s Car may find them Pace in the Short Term, but they risk the Same Problem with the Development of Next Year’s Car.

Sorting out the Correlation Issue is a Must, otherwise they’ll be writing off next season as well.

I’m surprise no Conspiracy Theorist have yet put forward the idea that this is intentional so that they could write-off this Season and concentrate on the 2014 Car. a Head Start withRule Changes could see you at the Front of the Pack for a couple of Seasons!


Very very embarassing. Paddy Lowe left?


Dont worry, Slim has put his money at McLaren, Claro (america movil) will be replacing vodafone…


James, what have you heard about this? in Latam its well known…


Interesting that McLaren’s correlation issues have suddenly popped up as they’ve decided to revamp the car. I recall Ferrari having correlation issues when they tried to be “aggressive” with the design.

I suspect other teams haven’t had similar issues as they’ve gone for evolutionary designs.

Clearly the predictive models they use are very empirical, which means it works well around the areas where you have a lot of data from the track but are poor once you have to extrapolate away from those data-rich areas. It might be worth looking at trying to develop or look at fundamentally stronger issues.

I’m no expert but that should really help with correlation issues in the future.


Time to get rid of the old wood..MW, JB and SM. What have they brought to McLaren? Even Head & Shoulders has ditched and gone for Hart 🙂


Clearly an awful car. I just can’t understand why they made so many changes as last year’s car was still so good. To then claim a team as well resourced as mclaren can’t get it’s data right is mystifying. Given that the team have gone backwards over the last few years and couldn’t win the championship when they had the fastest car, quite how is Martin whitmarsh still in a job?


Embarrassing ? Yes. But probably best for Jenson not to have made this remark as some of his Qualy performances have been rather embarrassing.

Something is not right at McLaren. However this is not just a 2013 thing. It goes back way before the Whitmarsh era started.


James … is Sam Michael really a good candidate for the job ?

He tenure at Williams was pretty mediocre as well .


I feel for JB, the McLaren car so far has finally given some fans an excuse to have their pop at him, and I honestly don’t know why people do it. He’s a great guy with a great heart and he’s a British Formula 1 Champion. Because he’s not spectacular in his approach he’s looked down on, but Damon never was (he was my childhood hero btw), very disturbing is you ask me.

Tornillo Amarillo

James, about McLaren it is not commented if there were team orders in Barcelona. The only thing or fight we were waiting in the whole race was when Checo was in Button’s tail, and what happened then? Can you clarify?


The comparisons to 2012 are a way off as Hamilton started from the back last year after his penalty.

Also comparing Hamilton’s qualifying 2012 to Button’s 2013 as if they would achieve the same time doesn’t add as Hamilton was usually over half a sec quicker.


They were both 17th around the first few laps. Same difference.


Same difference if Hamilton’s pace last year was 17th on the grid but it obviously wasn’t as he qualified on pole.


I’m a JB fan and British, so it’s really hard for me to see that Mclaren’s decision appears to have been a gamble that’s not paying off. Still there’s time for them to come on strong. It seemed a strange decision before the season because we know JB loved that 2012 car and that Mclaren need a new title sponsor for 2014. I would have gone for a strong first half of the season. JB is great at piling on the points over a season. Hind sight is great aint it?


Looks as though this year is getting close to being a write off.

How long till they focus on 2014? Soon I hope.


McLaren are having a similar year to Ferrari`s last year. The only difference being Ferrari had a Fernando who can drive around a car’s problems. McLaren without Lewis don’t have a driver that can do that anymore!


Its interesting to read some of JA report in regards to the race result last year and this year. For me that demonstrates that even the God like Hamilton could do no better last year, and get beaten by Button this year. McLaren have produced probably the worst car in a decade and some are stupid enough to blame the drivers, little formula 1 knowledge. The Brawn comparison is also a silly one for 2009 as everyone knows that the team finished the season with pretty much the same car as they started with. Honda had pulled their backing and the team had no financial backing to develop the car further. The other teams caught up withing 4 or 5 races and overtook Brawn on performance. So please, before people call for the sacking of the drivers, have a look at the car that the team have given them to drive.


Ehhhhhh HAmilton qualified on pole and got put to the back as the team messed up the fuelling. So Hamilton came from the back to get that result last year

Colombia Concalvez



Sad for F1 that such a great iconic name are so far off the pace. I rally hope James Allison is heading to Woking and not adding to the huge pool of Chief Engineers at Ferrari.


He is definitely not going to McLaren.

It’s either Ferrari or Red Bull, with the smart money on Ferrari



What about Allison been a family man and not going to Ferrari, do you remember?


I didn’t say he wouldn’t go, but made that observation to note that it would be a wrench for him. Which it will if he goes

Mike from Colombia

Joe Saward is absolutely adamant that Allison is not going to Ferrari.

Says that his sources have confirmed no. I’m sure that JA’s sources are better though !

Saward seems very confident that Allison is going to Mercedes to join Lowe.


If Allison goes to Ferrari would that mean Pat Fry leaving Maranello?


What position would he be taking at Ferrari. I know he worked there in 2000 to 2004 so effectively under Byrne, but would he become technical director of the squad? Pat Fry is tech dir of chassis only, or is this Ferrari naming practice?


What’s all this talk about drivers and cars? Let’s get back to talking about tyres, tyres, tyres, that is what real F1 and real racing is about.


I’ve read in the past that McLaren have two alternating design teams. They are not a team that lends itself to evolving their car over multiple years. Part of this I think is to improve efficiency amongst the individual design teams (solely focused on their cars rather than splitting time between current car and next year’s).

However, there seems to be a lack of translation and communication between these two design teams. One year the car will be very competitive, the next the other design team takes it in a totally different direction. It seems to be a very stupid organizational structure if you judge it by results. On the face of it, it might make some sense but in practice it loses McLaren valuable championship points (aka money) every year.

Unfortunately, it looks like Mercedes are seemingly following McLaren’s model by hiring on so much technical talent. There are so many cooks that they may feel the need to have two kitchens…

Danny Almonte

Even with ddrs at Brawn, Button struggled to win his title with the fastest car. There seems to be a law of diminishing returns where Button is concerned. A good car slowly loses pace with his input.

Mike Davidson

Have you forgot Jensons win in Canada a couple of years ago, one of the finest drives ever in history of Grand Prix racing.


Whats that got to do with car development.

Wasn’t that the 5 hour marathon of a wet Grand Prix, a race that he collided and removed both Hamilton and Alonso. These days he would have got penalty for either.


Erm no. Not by a long shot Achived with strategy and tyres. A good win, but don’t over egg it.


Danny: 2009 is not a fair gauge of driver input – as always there are multiple factors at play. In this case Brawn did not have the resources to make a strong development push during the season. The teams that did, were able to add the DDD and make massive gains. That was always going to close the gap.


+1! I always get excited when someone on an F1 site gives an objective view. So rare!


So, so true.



Mike from Colombia

Imagine if Hamilton had made those remarks….there would be calls for his retirement and a public apology.


I’m a McLaren Fan and I take no offence at all! his exact words have been quoted Button said: “It was a bit embarrassing for us because we are not doing a good enough job”. The statement is qualified when he says “We’ve got so much support from the fans. We are doing everything we can to get to the front”. As a fan, the second sentence is more important. I suspect we’d be cheering Kimi if he had made the same statement.


Spot on.

It’s not as if everyone else at McLaren is saying that all is rosy – they’re also admitting there’s work to do.

There is a lot of Lewis love on this discussion which seems to be clouding objectivity somewhat… :o)


yeah like Hamilton tweeting sensitive data for everyone to see and his fans defending him for doing that.


Yep, just the Button haters jumping on the bandwaggon to have a snipe.


True, its a very shocking thing for a driver to say.

Its the worst way possible to rally the troops.


I couldn´t agree more!


I think Mercedes are in a more embarrassing situation than McLaren.

Dropping places in the race or moving up, what’s better?

But anyway, I think all Mercedes engined cars get what they deserve for having a superior engine to the other teams.


Dropping places is better.

It means Merc have found the speed, McLaren have not. All Merc have to do is maintain that speed. Much easier than having to find it.


Kimi said any top 4 team can get pole position the way they set up the car, but it would hugely disadvantage them in the race, falling back fast.

Now, what do you see at Mercedes?

They go for glory on Saturday, grab headlines (because that’s all they have) then in the race, byebye, because no matter what they do with the setup, race pace is poor. So why not go for glory on Saturday and at least get that to please the bosses?

Looking at the history of McLaren and Mercedes, McLaren is the better team in everything. Especially developing the car, which happens to be the weakest point of Mercedes (even as Brawn GP and Honda).


Kimi said any top 4 team can get pole position the way they set up the car….

Oh well, if Kimi said it (about a competitor) then it must be true. I mean it’s not even up for debate, not now, not once the Oracle has spoken!


I don’t know where you are getting this go for glory stuff. Mercedes specifically said that they spent all their last practice sessions setting the car up for race tune and where just as surprised as everyone else that they were so far ahead in qualifying. Just gives you an idea of how much faster they could have been in they did in fact try a glory run.


Disagree. Mercedes had problems last year and the year before. In fact this season nobody was expecting too much from them. So if they don´t deliver nobody will be all that surprised. And you have to add their own management problems. I don´t think many people are happy with Lauda running the show.


McLaren need a root and branch change in personnel. From managers to drivers.

Thats the only way the glory days can come back. It is quite evident that things are totally wrong in the team.

They might also need to either dump Mclaren Automotive and concentrate 100% on F1, or (hate to say this), pull out of F1 and concentrate on their road car.


What? lol

Seriously, they’ve built two bad cars since 2007 and that means they should sack it all off?? Ha ha ha why can’t the majority of F1 fans ever view anything objectively?


Yep, quitting is the answer to everything.


‘You have all these simulation tools and you are constantly trying to close the loop between them and trackside’

Bring back in-season testing?


It has to be said, Mclaren should be commended for one thing and that is getting their pit stops woes from last season in order.

Man, seeing the Mclaren lads trip over themselves time after time was painful.

But as usual, under Whitmarsh’s reign, as soon as the team solves one problem, another two crop up.


“Mclaren should be commended for one thing and that is getting their pit stops woes from last season in order”

I disagree. You should not be commended for sorting out a problem that should never have existed in the first place; Not for a team of Mclaren’s caliber – Plus it took them more than 6 races to do it.

Andrew Barratt

Reminds me of when something went wrong in work when one of my team messed up; my boss told me we all get the team we deserve and I copped it. I thought it harsh at the time but in hind sight he was right.


I’m definitely missing something, about McLaren’s development choices AND the 2014 rules.

I thought (and please correct me if I’m wrong) that under the new rules, cars will have significantly lower noses in 2014. At the end of the 2012 season, the fastest car on the grid had a low nose — and all the ancillary equipment this involves, i.e. push-rod front suspension.

So, given that the direction this car was following will really be the only way forward from 2014 onwards, why on God’s green earth did the team fielding this car choose to go the high-nose route for 2013, thus developing something with even less carry-over for the following season??

Clearly I’m missing something.

Andrew Barratt

Is it something to do with their split team of developers where team A who made this years car will go on to make the car for the year after next. Therefore the team who made the ’12 car with the low nose will make the ’14 car. It’s a strange system they operate where they seem to lose all they’ve developed over the year until that team make the next car


Well if this is the case, good luck to them. Somehow I doubt they worked this way when Newey was still around…


Sam Michael. Look up his accomplishments and the teams he has been with. And where they are today. Hint: Either out of the sport or doing very badly since his tenure.

I never understood why McLaren, of all teams, hired that man.


I’m just glad Ferrari didn’t..

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