Jenson Button labels his Mexican Grand Prix “painful”, as the McLaren-Honda driver only beats the Manors to finish 14th at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
This capped another very difficult weekend for the 2009 world champion, who had been plagued by poor engine reliability in the build up to Sunday’s race.
Starting last after a 70-place grid penalty, Button toiled at the back of the field all afternoon as the circuit’s high altitude and immense 1.2km straight exposed the most glaring flaws in the underpowered Honda engine.
“Painful I think is the word,” the Briton replied when asked to describe his race. “I was on the harder [tyre] on the start but it was just waving goodbye to everyone at the start.
“The straight line speed they have is phenomenal. We are still doing 345kph on the straight, but they are 20kph quicker than us. So when they have DRS and full deployment they are 45kph quicker than us.
“It is a massive difference in speed, I couldn’t hold people behind me even if I was in front of them, not that was very often unless they were pitting or lapping me.”
The only silver lining for Button came from his MP4-30 being able to keep pace with midfield contenders in the twisty and narrow stadium section.
“The interesting thing is, compared to a Williams or the middle of the pack cars we were quicker in the last sector.
“It is unbelievably slow, but the car was working better there. When [Valtteri] Bottas lapped me, I dropped back 1.5secs then caught him for the DRS zone.
“Those sort of sectors the car is working pretty well. In the high speed it needs a bit of work, without turning the steering wheel it is pretty tricky. We have a lot of work to do.
“At the end of the race I was behind Carlos, which was a bit of fun and I think I was faster than the car in front for once. Again we really struggled.”
Although Button had entered the Mexico weekend knowing that McLaren-Honda would endure another tough outing, the 35-year-old admits to being surprised by the magnitude of the gap and cannot wait for the season to end.
“I think we have lost more power here than most with the altitude. You’d think it would bring everyone closer together but it really hurt us here. Hopefully Brazil will be better and Abu Dhabi, then we can enjoy the winter.”
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