Button pins hopes on upgrades
McLaren star hopes they can make real progress in Germany
By Mike Wise at Hockenheim. Last Updated: 19/07/12 8:42pm
Jenson Button hopes the upgrades McLaren bring to their car at this weekend's German Grand Prix can help them take the fight to Red Bull and Ferrari once more.
Button arrives at Hockenheim on the back of a dismal run of form. He won the season-opener in Melbourne but has scored just seven points in the last six races and currently lies eighth in the drivers' standings.
Part of the problem has been Button himself. Getting Pirelli's tyres into the correct operating window has been a struggle for all drivers this season but it seems to have been a particular bugbear for the 2009 World Champion.
However, the pace of McLaren's MP4-27 has also suffered in comparison with the cars of Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus, something Button hopes his team will address this weekend with a raft of aero and mechanical upgrades.
"They need to go into this summer recess having got on top of their car. I think it's a pivotal and very important weekend for McLaren's season."
Martin Brundle on McLaren's position Quotes of the week
Most prominent will be a new sidepod layout. "They're very straightforward, it's nothing to do with complicated exhaust blowing, so hopefully we should put them on and we should just go faster," Button said.
"We haven't got slower. It's just that other people have either found themselves or made good improvements. In the first few races of the year, I didn't really feel that teams like Lotus had it sorted and now they're looking very strong, the same as a few of the teams.
"But you'd have to say that Ferrari and Red Bull are the two that have really stepped forward compared to everyone else. It's just big updates.
"I don't think we've had a big enough update yet to really be in the mix. Here should be that update and I hope that it takes us back to the front."
Button struggled with the balance of his car for several races but said it felt better at Silverstone, even though he could only finished 10th in the British Grand Prix.
"The last race was a tough race in terms of we weren't quick but my feeling with the car was good and we did a good job on our side of the garage," he said.
"That wasn't there for a couple of races but I don't feel that that's there anymore. I feel a lot of confidence in the car, we're just not quick enough. We can get a reasonable balance, we just don't have the overall pace."
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Button's personal nadir came in Canada, where he finished a lapped 16th in a race won by team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Even so, he feels his struggles might help in the long-term.
"It was really good information to see how two cars can be completely different in terms of degradation, which has helped us learn about the degradation of these tyres," Button said.
"Normally it's impossible to grain a tyre in three laps, especially a rear tyre, and I was doing that in Canada."
Button admitted that tyre degradation has been a particular problem for McLaren but reckoned it could be minimised with more downforce and the right set-up work.
However, he denied that the MP4-27 is too complicated a car to set up properly.
"I don't think our car's that complicated. I think maybe we've tried more things; I think with the issues of the tyres that everyone's had, we've probably gone in very different directions to get them work in terms of temperature. That's the one thing we probably struggle with more than most," Button added.
"We've tried so many different things and we have tyre temperature now but you have to be careful because you might make other areas weak on the car."