Jenson Button says issues that dogged 2013 McLaren not apparent on MP4-29 debut
After missing Day One, Button says 'nothing scary' about the 2014 car
By James Galloway at Jerez. Last Updated: 30/01/14 7:38am
Jenson Button has described the belated debut of McLaren's MP4-29 as "positive" and believes the car has immediately provided a stronger starting point for the team than its flawed predecessor.
On the day Eric Boullier was confirmed in the new role of Racing Director at the former World Champions, McLaren recovered from sitting out Day One, when electrical issues struck their new car, to set the Day Two pace after putting 43 laps on the board.
Although times at this stage of pre-season are wholly academic with the name of the game simply putting mileage on the complex new cars - as illustrated by the Renault-powered runners' travails - Button took satisfaction from McLaren's immediate recovery and the discovery that there were no fundamental problems with the MP4-29.
"We had a lot of issues yesterday, [it's] nice to see we've been able to solve them overnight though. Lots of start-ups last night I could hear from my motorhome, so I wasn't worried about being woken - it was nice to hear that the engine was starting," he told reporters on Wednesday evening.
"Not a lot of laps today, 43, but I think a positive start. There's no horrible issues with the car itself, no big issues with the power unit in terms of how it delivers, so the basic car itself is where we want it to be.
"We always aim to have a good base because this is the way that it's going to improve throughout the year and how much we're going to add to this year aerodynamically and in terms of the engine is massive, so having a good base is important.
"We did lots of different runs today. We weren't able to do any long runs just because we had a few issues. The good thing is we're able to solve them pretty quickly and get out there and actually puts some laps in."
Jenson managed 43 laps in the new MP4-29
Although McLaren actually set the Day One pace at Jerez last year, the MP4-28's out-of-the-box speed proved to be completely misleading after the team later infamously discovered they had incorrectly fitted a suspension part. They went on to endure their worst season in 30 years, failing to finish on the podium at any point during 2013.
But, with none of the immediate handling complaints that dogged the 2013 challenger apparent on the MP4-29, Button added: "Our first day last year was quick but the car had its flaws and we could see that on day one. The car was bouncing around a lot and we had our issues that were not going to be easy to solve.
"At the moment we definitely don't have those issues, the basic car is good and it works as you would hope. No scary things with it."
Encouraged by the MP4-29's own inherent performance, it also didn't escape Button's notice that it had been a strong Day Two for all of the four Mercedes-powered teams.
While the three Renault customer customers, including World Champions Red Bull, completed 18 laps between them amid battery problems, Mercedes engines racked up a combined total of 212 laps.
Button revealed that all the Mercedes teams had been running different kinds of programmes to understand the engine and admitted that, somewhat against the grain in the usually cut-throat world of F1, they could all help each other.
"Looking at the timesheets today it's very interesting because we're running a very different programme to [Nico] Rosberg and Mercedes," he revealed. "We're running very different engine modes, we're trying different things, so we're getting a lot of information from both cars. Also with [Williams driver Valtteri] Bottas and with [Force India's Sergio] Perez as well.
"So there's a lot of information, a lot of mileage. I think it's 75 per cent of the mileage done by an F1 car has a Mercedes engine. You could say we're in good shape that way as long as it continues like that. We all need to work together. Obviously at the end of the day we're all here to fight each other as teams but the more information that we can share over the next weeks and months can really make a difference to our championship."
McLaren are under pressure to deliver a much stronger 2014 Championship after slumping to fifth place last year and Boullier's appointment is part of a sweeping management restructure initiated at the team by the returning Ron Dennis.
Asked to comment on Boullier's appointment as his effective new line manager, Button suggested that the former Lotus chief would bring something to Woking.
"I think it's good to have fresh ideas. He does add to the team," the 2009 World Champion said.
"The team will never be changed by one individual but I think he does add something. When the management structure is complete we will be in good shape."
Button's participation at Jerez had been due to end after Tuesday but the MP4-29's Day One no-show has led McLaren to alter their schedule for Day Three, with the 2009 World Champion continuing in the car in the morning before handing over to new rookie team-mate Kevin Magnussen.
Scheduled Jerez Day Three line-up:
Caterham: Robin Frijns.
Ferrari: Fernando Alonso.
Force India: Nico Hulkenberg.
McLaren: Jenson Button/Kevin Magnussen.
Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton.
Red Bull: Daniel Ricciardo.
Sauber: Adrian Sutil.
Toro Rosso: Jean-Eric Vergne
.Williams: Felipe Massa.
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