Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso disagree over McLaren’s US Grand Prix performance
McLaren
XPB.cc Jenson Button Fernando Alonso
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  26 Oct 2015   |  7:48 pm GMT  |  90 comments

It looked like McLaren’s strongest showing for quite a while; but Jenson Button was disappointed with the pace of his McLaren despite scoring his best result of the season at the US Grand Prix, while his teammate Fernando Alonso was pleased with the speed of his car.

The Spaniard, of course, was armed with a new spec Honda engine, which had a straight line speed advantage over the old one.

Alonso described his race as “one of my best in several years” despite finishing outside the points as an engine problem dropped him down the order late on.

The Spaniard was running the latest specification of Honda engine was on course for a high finish before his issue, but Button was still not happy with his McLaren’s pace in dry conditions.

XPB.cc Fernando Alonso

Speaking after the race, where he finished sixth, Button said: “We did a good job with strategy, but other than that, the pace of the car was not that exciting. Our pace is nowhere near what we expected. We need to go away and look at why.

“We just get eaten up as always in bits of the circuit that are a little bit straighter on the throttle.

“When it was [damp] drying it was great, I really enjoyed that, as always.
I could make a little bit of a difference – but at the end, when it was dry, it was very tough with graining.”

XPB.cc Jenson Button

But Alonso, who was a lap down done before the safety car was called out for the first time due to a first lap clash with Felipe Massa, described his car’s pace as “really strong.”

He said: “We would have finished fifth and it would have been one of the best races of my career. I leave with the feeling of having done my best race in several years and hopefully I can repeat it in the three that we have left.

“We were one minute behind the penultimate car on lap two, then we were fifth ten laps from the end and the pace was really strong.

“It would have been a little miracle what nearly happened today, but we had an engine issue in the last ten laps. It feels better to fight with other cars and be competitive, but on the day we are this competitive, all these issues are not welcome.”

XPB.cc Fernando Alonso

Despite the conflicting accounts from its drivers, McLaren did enjoy a strong race in Texas. The damp start and twisty first section of the Circuit of the Americas played to the aerodynamic strength of the car and allowed Button and Alonso to keep in touch with the rest of the grid despite the track’s long straights.

Alonso was also helped by the two safety car periods closing the pack up. He was fortunate that these disruptions allowed him to un-lap himself and join the back of the queue but deserved to score points before his engine issue.

The double world champion was clearly annoyed with the problem, telling the team over the team radio: “As soon as I am not in the points, I stop.” Unfortunately Daniel Ricciardo caught and passed him on the final lap and Alonso came home in P11.

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1

Alonso’s recent comments about his own driving smack of a driver trying to find a silver lining from a dismal season. It’s relatively easier to find the absolute limit when you’re driving a go-kart, isn’t it?

2

All this talk about Mchonda finishing in the top 10…. oh wait how many cars finished the race?

3

Yeah all the skilled drivers who knew how to keep in on track?

4

too much secrecy in F1 now. No matter how much blather and hot air we are fed from the TV nobody mentions lap times drivers are currently running of speeds they are getting down the straight.

So its a mystery to me wether alonso was going faster down the straight due to new engine or turning faster lap times that older engine.

Numbers please as not everyone wants the dumbest product possible.

I dont want to have to go looking all round the internet when I have paid for the BBC lads and lasses jolly round the world to tell me these facts.

5

While the engine upgrade to Alonso’s car may have only been worth 1/10th at Texas, we just don’t know if its worth more in the long run. For all we know the tokens spent could have been fixing reliability issues, a design problem with the engine or laying the foundations for a better bigger upgrade later on.

I guess what I am saying is that tokens spent may not always translate to faster lap times immediately, but they could be really important for reliability or long term gains.

6

I understand the point you are trying to make but the teams are allowed to make changes to the engine on reliability grounds which often translates to performance gains. It wouldn’t make sense to use up tokens for reliability

7

Ah thanks! I didn’t realise teams could sneak in extra upgrades through under “reliability”.

I thought everything had to be tokens, but it makes sense from a health and safety point of view I guess 🙂

8

what a marvelous sight: McLaren´s at one point coming through the field.

And when they are coming through like that then that color-scheme does look “predatory”

9

So now we have confirmed from Honda’s comments that engineers are actively controlling the software mapping for their engines:

http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/121519

And we know from Rosberg’s comments what he thinks of that mapping.

There’s another activity enabled by this “mapping”…

10

Not impressed… what a waste of the best driver line up on the grid…

Oh, well – maybe these guys might sneak the odd podium next year (like RBR this season)

11

They aren’t going to be fighting for race wins next season, but I hope they can at least regularly fight for points, and not have to rely on a lot of retirements, like USA or Hungary..

I just don’t think Fernando or Jenson will be able to cope with ANOTHER tear if being backmarkers. Hope Honda gets the MGU-H right next season.

12

This is F1. Anything can happen. Nobody knows until 1st testing what anyone’s package would be like. Have y’all forgot….

Brawn GP’s 2009 Super car

Mclaren’s 2009 dog

Mclaren’s 2013 stinker

Lotus 2013 race winner

Ferrari’s 2014 red ice cream truck

Ferrari’s 2015 multi-race winner

Honda’s 2016 ________?

No one knows what the future holds.

13

Can anyone quote me how many times Alonso has said ” I just drove the best race of my career”
Has to be almost every race… [mod]

The Mclaren is a very good car and its starting to make progress one year from now they will be a top 3 car. Austin had 8 retirements most of which would normally finish ahead of both Mchondas. That and so many sc interventions dressed things up nicely for the FA- whilst Im no fan of JB hes more accurate in his for the race in fact anyone would be more honest..

14
H.Guderian (heinz.g@yandex.com)

“The Mclaren is a very good car….”

Really???

15

The chassis is.. PU and integration needs work. The way that thing corners is still imoressive.I think what we might see is Mclaren loosen the bodywork a little and its competitors tighten theirs a bit more.

They will probably all meet half way next year & Mchonda just shy a few ponies.

16

He said it was one of the best races of his career.

17

Yeah but he says that every race..The guys just trying to keep his profile up because noones interested anymore

18

I’m not sure what to make of McLaren’s performance in COTA actually; especially with Fernando’s car, if the pace and competitiveness in Quali and the race were largely down to the engine upgrade or the tricky conditions. In contrast to Jenson though, it would look like the engine upgrade was a step forward. Plus, probably wouldn’t make too much of the Britton’s complaint on lack of pace /grip due to tire graining, since historically his style has shown to be more sensitive to changing track conditions.

19

Button was rightfully disappointed. The Mclaren had a sizeable aero update at the USGP. He would have known the theoretical gain. Either it didn’t quite work as expected or the field made gains, too.

20

Very strange comment given the exact team circumstances. Did somebody forget to tell Jenson only alonso was getting the newer spec engine. If he did know rather foolish of him to pretty much slate the team when the newer tested unit is showing significant progress more bad pr at the very long time i would near bet my life (not my childs) that theres very simple to get rid of clauses in Buttons contract from Mclarens point of view.

21

The mclaren had a sizeable aero update that was probably worth more than the PU update that Alonso received. Button was probably expecting more.

22

I interpreted what Fernando said a little bit differently to this article. I think he was saying HE had driven a great race – not so much that the car was that fantastic. Jenson explained that he was disappointed that the car was slow round corners compared to Sainz and other midfield teams, belying the fact that Mclaren had an allegedly great chassis.

As for me, I was pleasantly surprised that they appeared to go better on the straight and didn’t appear to run out of battery power on even the longest straight.

23

Look at what Red Bull and Toro Rosso have done with that Renault PU in comparison to the Mclaren. He has to know the chassis is just average I would think?

24

I’m with Button on this, very disappointing from McLaren. Even with the safety cars closing up the field, they were lapped by the leaders.

25

Well maybe there is some”Green Shoots of Growth”.

Alonso hailing the engine as quick bodes well, shame

Massa had a set too with Alonsos car.

Well Mexico is hot & anything can happen with the new engines. Hope Mclaren get into the mix with Sauber Toro Rosso & Red Bull.

26

Honda have been dismal failures. It won’t get better next year as Merc and the rest will improve.

Sad to see 2 of the best drivers have to go through this.

It has soured me on F1 this year.

27

So the failure of a manufacturer has soured you on F1 as a whole? How is that F1’s fault?

Merc and the rest will improve marginally, Honda has the potential for massive performance jumps if they fix fundamental errors in their engine architecture.

If they fix the RPM limitations of their current turbo setup or scrap it and follow Mercedes they can see a bigger than Ferrari jump over the winter.

28

honda will change the turbo and the mgu-h in the off season. mclaren are improving the car. next year should see more improvement.

29

Yes, they may be able to beat Sauber more comfortably in addition to Manor 😉

30

Where did you read/hear this?

31

motorsport magazine article by mark hughes october 6. you can find other stories with a quick google search.

32

Different strokes. Jenson drove a stellar race with some edge of seat driving, a real raise for McLaren Honda. But Fernando?…

Alonso: “I box, I box”

McLaren: “Stay out, we’re in the points” –

Alonso: “Okay, but when we’re out of the points, I’m coming in”

Again, different strokes.

33

You do realize that applying your logic, any disagreement over the radio could be construed as lack of spirit on the drivers side, since engineers always know more of the state of the cars than drivers. It’s funny how you say that the spirits told the driver who was loosing at one point 4 secs per lap compared to the other drivers that yhe PU was faulty (perhaps he was looking at the times) but you go on to claim from your armchair several thousand miles away that he didnt try hard enough based on a 5 second soundbite… wow! I could go on, but simply i give up, theres no logic to any of your claims. I dont know why i got drawn to yhid one anyway. Back to zen. May the spirits be with you.

34

Now I know the spirits be where the zen is! 🙂

If the team says the engine is ok, then its ok. There’s no excuse for a driver wanting to give up when he is in the points.

35

Your “obvious fact” is merely your opinion. How do you deduce this obvious fact? Because of the radio transmission? As many have pointed in this comments section he was risking a grid penalty if the pu broke down. I’m afraid if someone doesn’t make any sense it’s you, taking your opinion as an obvious fact.

36

Rafa, you mean Alonso by some clairvoyant means somehow knew that his PU was going to be in trouble when he made the call? Did the spirits inform him? Haha!

McLaren clearly told Alonso; “Stay out, we’re in the points”

I would think that McLaren know a lot more about the PU than Alonso ever could and at that point where Alonso was prepared to throw in the towel, McLaren felt the PU was still good enough. Alonso only dropped out of the points in the last lap, what does that say? He would most likely have been in the points if he had listened to McLaren and tried harder (just like Jenson did).

37

Both drivers drove well, but the car stinks… once it dryed up the car shows its usual colours of bad reliability and slow top speed.

It’s would have really sown it’s colours if everyone had finished the race….

38

Need this issue be raised again? Don’t box, don’t collect points, get a grid penalty next race. You’re lacking context and falling for the sound bite and interpreting it as if he were driving a merc. Logic?

39

You are not making sense and sounding angry for no reason.

Jenson drove a spirited race, Alonso did not. Obvious facts.

40

Not sure if I was dreaming, but did I not see Alonso overtake a car into the first corner, a Mercedes engined car at that!?

41

Any idea what the top speed difference between the two was?

42

In qualifying: Button 296 km/h, Alonso 299.5. Better, but not a big difference. Ferrari and the Mercedes customer teams were all in the 308-310 km/h area, and Mercedes themselves topped 313.

43

I’m pretty sure Alonso said not to get too excited as the new engine was only worth about a tenth, so i do not think they disagreed by much, especially as JB beat FA!

44

Well, he didn’t really beat him, did he?

45

Er. Yes he did.

46

Again comments are not getting through….really frustrating…..

47

Maybe deleting your cookies and cache might help you. It just worked for me. 🙂

48

Comment>Hit Refresh (F5)> Viola!!!

49

Alonso said in the Spanish TV that the new engine gave at most 0.1s per lap compared to the old engine

50

I messaged my brother during race and said ‘Is your Sky working?’

He replied ‘Yes.Im watching the race’.

I said ‘Me too its just that I thought the screen had gone funny as the 2 mclarens are looking competitive’!!

Serioulsy though,despite all the dramas and the unusual conditions, I thought it was an encouraging race for them.

I was also wondering at various points in the season whether or not the Mclaren-Honda relationship would ever work but I do now believe they have hit rock bottom and will eventually get it right.

You only have to look at how Williams are never going to be Wrold Champions with a Merc engine or Red Bull not being given a Merc or Ferrari engine to see it was the right route for them to go!

51

I appreciate that McLaren fans are keeping the faith, and that is right and proper, but I don’t see any logical reason to believe that they are bound to get it right given time, and that McLaren Honda will eventually be a world-beater.

Firstly, Honda didn’t get the engine right last time they were in F1 – they had to leave the sport, and nobody, not even Brawn, wanted to keep using their engine. They have a history of doing things their own way without buying in expertise, and this may well result in failure as it did last time.

Secondly, there is no reason to think that today’s McLaren team are as able to produce a competitive chassis as previous generations. Once they lost Hamilton, their chassis looked very ordinary not only compared to Mercedes, but also compared to Williams and Force India.

I hope they will succeed, but logically it could well be that their future will be a weak engine in an average chassis.

52

Bit of a coincidence in losing driver AND designer at the same time hey, but surely the loss of Lewis meant the design went downhill, nothing to do with the designer. lol

53

Whoa! Hold on there, big fella. Let’s get one thing straight….

Drivers drive and engineers, well….engineer.

Everything else is opinion, conjecture, or myth. Except for Jack Brabham, of course.

54
H.Guderian (heinz.g@yandex.com)

“Once they lost Hamilton, their chassis looked very ordinary….”.

I didn’t know Hammy was involved in chassis design at the time.

Thanks for the info. Totally new for me.

55

The only time I have ever used this star system was to give your opening gag 1star.

56

Alonso has lost it. He just doesn’t have the speed or skill anymore.

57

Yet, he is still considered the best driver on the grid. So what does that say about the rest?

Only thing he lost was the car.

58

Only blind people could consider Alonso the best driver. Both Vettel and Hamilton are definetely more talent than the spanish.

59
H.Guderian (heinz.g@yandex.com)

You are, right.

Dennis/Honda paying him that *HUGE* amount of money is insane….;-)

60
Spinodontosaurus

Have you been paying attention to his results this year at all? He has only been beaten on track by Button once this entire season, the matchup is one of the most one-sided on the grid.

61

I’m not so sure about that – I think he still has the speed and skill, but I think this sums up Alonso’s basic problem right now: “As soon as I am not in the points, I stop”

In the previous article tmanuk called Verstappen and Sainz the “Playstation generation”, but at least they race and give it everything until the end and regardless of what anyone thinks of them that’s to be respected.

Quitting just because you’re not doing well as you’d like? That’s for the Playstation.

62

You might be right guys.

The article did mention that he had a problem with the engine, but having not seen the race myself I had no idea what sort of problem it was or how serious it might have been – All I got was the sense that Alonso was frustrated and had reached the point where he’d rather stop than drive around at the back.

If that’s not the case, my apologies.

63
H.Guderian (heinz.g@yandex.com)

Trying to save his engine???

64

I think you are right, that’s exactly what I do when I play my video games, but hey, I have an Xbox, so maybe thats the problem.

65

@Random

I read that more as – I will carry on risking damage to the engine while we have a chance to salvage some points for the team but as soon as its all lost I will save the engine so that we won’t get anohter penalty in the next race

66

I didn’t read it as a whining comment – you’re carrying an engine problem, you’d normally stop to prevent possible damage to your lovely new upgraded engine because you’re really quite sick of grid penalties this year, but whilst you’re still in the points it’s worth risking it.

67

I think his comments about stopping were more about not wanting to destroy the engine which had a problem rather than just giving up. If he gave up just because he wasn’t in the points, he would barely have finished a race all year.

68

Random,

Could it be because he’s taken way too many grid penalties and just want to conserve the engine to avoid anymore?

69

Is that his problem or a problem with the limit on the number of engines you can use per season? What’s the point in him flogging an engine if it won’t gain them any points?

70

I think if he retired he is able to make some changes to the car for the next race rather than continue with an already malfunctioning engine that can be reused… or is that strategy not a part of the consideration?

71

Nonsense. Alonso not having the machinery to mix it with Vettel and Hamilton is one of the great tragedies of modern F1. I’m not a fan of the man, but his 2012 season was truly amazing.

72

IT was a great season and the better driver won – those machines were so equal compared to today.

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