McLaren rally round Button
Jenson suffering sharp slump in form
Last Updated: 12/06/12 11:13am
The McLaren team have vowed to stand by Jenson Button after shouldering the blame for the 2009 World Champion's shocking performance in Canada.
Button had to suffer the ignominy of being lapped by race winner and team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve - a circuit he triumphed upon just a year ago.
Australia: Started 2nd, Finished 1st
Malaysia: Started 2nd, Finished 14th
China: Started 5th, Finished 2nd
Bahrain: Started 4th, Finished 18th
Spain: Started 10th Finished 9th
Monaco: Started 12th, Finished 16th
Canada: Started 10th, Finished 16th
Having won the season-opening Australian GP, Button has endured a sharp slump in form since then, collecting a measly two points from the last four races and suffering a new low in Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix.
However, McLaren are rallying around their beleaguered driver, insisting they were responsible for Button's slow performance this weekend after a gearbox failure in Practice forced him to miss almost all of Friday's running.
"Jenson is a great racing driver, but we served him badly over the weekend," said team boss Martin Whitmarsh.
"His rear tyres were completely shot because we didn't long-run with his suspension set-up on Friday. That was our fault. We didn't give him a car he could perform in.
"Looking at what is happening with the rear tyres I think the car was excessively hard on them. It was killing the tyres."
Sporting Director Sam Michael also leapt to Button's defence after Canada, telling Sky Sports F1: "As a team, we've let him down in a few areas. He lost so much track time here because of a gearbox issue and we ended up going in quite a different and we didn't get enough long-running data and I think that really affected him.
"Look at the way he drove in Melbourne. When everything is going right, he's a World Champion. There's no doubt in our mind that he will turn the corner and we're 100% behind him. He'll be back very soon at the front."
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Yet the question remains just why has Button's form deteriorated so rapidly. According to Michael, "Lewis can drive a car a little bit differently, he can adapt his style around it, whereas Jenson tends to need a rear-end grip car. Overall, though, it's not a huge difference. If we turn up with a car that is competitive, then he can deliver."
McLaren chairman Ron Dennis also believes that Button's poor outing was caused by a flaw in the MP4-27's set-up. "He knows how to win a race and if he was having that [type of] race then it wasn't Jenson's problem, it was a problem with the car. These cars are on a knife-edge and if you fall out of the window then you just completely lose it," Dennis told Sky Sports F1.
It is understood that, despite being forced to sit out the majority of Friday Practice, Button also used the new rear suspension that was introduced by the team this weekend. "For the race, both cars were technically identical," confirmed Ted Kravitz.