Jenson Button confident there's plenty more McLaren can learn before Australia
McLaren driver still unsure of pecking order, but offers hope to Mercs
By James Galloway in Barcelona. Last Updated: 02/03/13 8:37am
Jenson Button believes there is still "so much more" McLaren can get out of their MP4-28 over the final two days of testing in Barcelona, with the Briton setting the team the target of completing more than 200 laps across the weekend.
While running time at the Circuit de Catalunya was compromised by rain for the third successive test day on Friday, Button was still reasonably chipper about McLaren's session after finishing a strong second on the timesheet, telling The F1 Show that "for us it's been the best day of the testing".
Nonetheless, with McLaren experiencing what Button himself last week described as a 'tricky' winter with their revolutionary 2013 car hitherto, the 2009 World Champion did at the same time admit that they needed Saturday and Sunday to be "100-lap days".
Speaking later to reporters in the paddock in Barcelona, the 33-year-old elaborated on how the team ideally wanted the final two days to play out.
"If we have too much downtime, or the weather's bad, it's going to be tricky," he said when asked if McLaren were in line to be fully prepared for race one.
"I'm sure we could deal with it and still do a good job in Australia, but personally I feel that there's so much more we can achieve with this car over the next two days. So we need it to be good weather and [for the car to be] reliable.
"I think we all hope we're going to turn up at the first race and be competitive, but we don't know that. It's always the aim to be ready for race one, it's a long season so you've got to think about consistency through the year and developing the car through the year and being competitive every race you go to."
While the fact McLaren still have work to do before Melbourne to fully get on top of the MP4-28 could act as a cause for concern, Button was understandably keener to focus on the prospective flip side.
"I like driving it, it's a nice car to drive," he added.
"There's nothing that scares me about the car, but I still feel we can do a lot more with it than we are doing at the moment. That's the exciting part I think: there's still room for improvement.
"There also some things we haven't tested with it yet which hopefully we can do over the next two days and will see improvement."
The guessing games as to the pecking order heading to Melbourne - and McLaren's precise position in it - continue and Button insisted it was still difficult to really get a handle on where everyone was relative to each other.
"We all look, I think we would be lying if we didn't look at times - that's what the timing screens and all the trucks are for," he said.
"Obviously we learn [things] but trying to get an understanding of where people are is very difficult. For us , doing a run and coming in and saying 'what time's Red Bull doing?' is irrelevant. We need to do a run and feel the car and if it feels better, even if we don't see a great lap time, we've got to go in that direction with the car."
Interestingly, however, Button did offer one intriguing observation: "I'd say that one team that has been consistently quick on their runs is the Mercedes more than anyone else..."