More frustration for Button

McLaren driver has work to do after gearbox problem limits running

By Mike Wise in Montreal.   Last Updated: 09/06/12 8:21am

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Jenson Button suffered more woes in Montreal on Friday when a gearbox problem put paid to any meaningful running in opening practice for the Canadian Grand Prix.

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The McLaren driver, who won the race in memorable fashion 12 months ago, missed most of the opening session after oil leaked from his car's gearbox on to the clutch.

Although the team thought they had repaired the problem in time for the afternoon session, the discovery of a secondary problem in the gearbox then forced it to be changed.

As a result, Button was unable to take to the track until the closing minutes and ended the session ninth fastest. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, was quickest in both 90-minute outings.

"We had an oil leak, an oil problem, this morning in the first session. They took the gearbox off, put it back on and then they found another problem with the gearbox," said Button as a thunderstorm hit the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve shortly after the end of the day's running.

"So they had to take it all off again and put it back on. I think it was 12 laps in the end, or 13 laps. The problem was that because we wanted to go out there and actually do some laps, we didn't do any set-up work, we didn't see if the car was straight or anything.

"It didn't feel quite right but it was good to at least get out and a massive thanks to the boys."

Button will not receive a five-place grid penalty as McLaren replace the gearboxes on their cars after Friday practice sessions regardless.

But he does have plenty of set-up work to during final practice on Saturday after again complaining of poor balance during his limited track time - a complaint that has become a running theme for the 2009 World Champion of late.

After dominating the season-opener in Australia and also finishing a strong second behind the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg in China, Button has picked up just two points in the last three races.

Two of those grands prix, Bahrain and Monaco, ended in retirement while Button finished behind Hamilton in Spain even though the latter was forced to start from the back of the grid.

In Barcelona, Button was hampered by both understeer and oversteer and has, like many drivers, struggled to get Pirelli's current range of tyres to work properly in certain circumstances.

McLaren Technical Director Paddy Lowe thinks the problem is not Button himself - but that it runs deeper than tyres. "Spain was interesting," he said. "Jenson was very strong on the Friday and Lewis less so. I don't believe it's a problem with Jenson whatsoever.

"It does seem like this is a multi-dimensional problem and it's not as simple as just saying the tyres aren't hot enough."

Lowe also said that McLaren are doing all they can to help their driver. "Mostly experiments with set-up," added. "We've learnt quite a bit from what we had in Monaco and what the weaknesses were there. So we've taken forward quite a few ideas on the simulator and we're trying those here."

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