Jenson Button admits dominant start to 2013 for one driver last thing McLaren need
Briton also backs team's decision to focus on improving MP4-28
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 21/03/13 6:04pm
Jenson Button has admitted it is imperative for underperforming McLaren that the start of the season produces as many different race winners as possible if they are to stay in realistic title contention while working through the problems with their MP4-28.
The beleaguered Woking team go into this weekend's second round in Malaysia with their backs firmly against the wall after picking up their worst result in a season-opening race for four years at Albert Park last weekend, when Button finished only ninth and new signing Sergio Perez out of the points.
The days following the season-opener have been accompanied by sustained media conjecture over how exactly McLaren will attempt to tackle their lack of pace, and while the team haven't completely ruled out the most drastic option of reintroducing last year's race-winning MP4-27, Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh has stressed they remain committed to the current car for now.
Nonetheless, Button admitted last Sunday that it was likely to take the team "quite some time" to turn the MP4-28 into a more competitive proposition and asked by Sky Sports News at Sepang on Thursday if it was therefore vital for their season that, like last year, the opening grands prix don't see one driver and team run away with things, the 33-year-old replied: "One person can't dominate for us. I'm already 23 points behind the leader so we need different winners every race.
"But even so, if we're picking up one or two points [per race], it's still very difficult."
Although Whitmarsh has dampened talk that going back to last year's car is the easy answer to their early-season travails, suggestions that fundamental changes to the MP4-28's design philosophy could be made at some stage continue.
Button, however, agrees that improving what they have got at the moment has to be the first priority and is confident that, theoretically at least, they have more scope than most to make major improvements.
"It's better to stick to the plan in terms of developing what we have to improve what we have - that's always the way forward," he added.
"We don't know what the future holds. At the moment we've got a car and we're trying to make the best of what we have.
"McLaren is a front-running team and they know how to develop cars. Developing this, we're obviously not where we would like to be, but we do know the curve of improvements hopefully will be far greater than what other people can find. Well, it needs to be!"
Indeed, it is understood that even if McLaren were contemplating reintroducing their 2012 challenger, the process wouldn't be as straightforward as simply bringing the car out of storage and putting it back on the race track.
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Speaking during Sky Sports Online's F1 Midweek Report show, Anthony Rowlinson, the editor of F1 Racing magazine, said: "The main problem they have with that is they can't just do that: they would have to re-crash test the MP4-27, have a new front wing that's compliant with the new technical regs, have a new underfloor that's compliant with the new technical regs.
"They're subtly different but last year's car isn't automatically legal for this year. That in itself is a big job and then they'd arrive, say in Spain for the Spanish GP, for a car they hadn't tested, they hadn't run, so they'd probably be in no better a situation than they are now."
In the more immediate term, Button, meanwhile, has reiterated optimism that the MP4-28 might already be more suited to the Sepang circuit this weekend.
"We've got to just focus on finding a good set-up for here. It's obviously a very different circuit and maybe we won't have such big issues," he said.
"A few of our issues - it was plain to see - were ride at the last race and it shouldn't be such a problem here with the smoother circuit. The higher temperatures should hopefully help us with tyre temperature as well."