Jenson Button has admitted that the McLaren MP4-30’s raw potential remains an unknown quantity as the 2015 F1 campaign gets underway this weekend around the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne.
Having welcomed back Japanese engine supplier Honda over the winter, McLaren has experienced a trying start to the year as both partners struggled to get to grips with the complex power unit technology in pre-season testing.
The three sessions in Jerez and Barcelona were rife with reliability gremlins that limited the Woking-based team’s running. Worse, McLaren returnee Fernando Alonso was forced to pull out of the opening Grand Prix after the double world champion had a bizarre crash at Circuit de Catalunya during the second test.
However, McLaren was still able to find solace in the MP4-30 showing some flashes of pace when it could enjoy trouble-free runs.
“While we know [Melbourne] and the [Albert Park] Circuit well, what is more of an unknown is how we will fare in the MP4-30,” said Button. “McLaren-Honda has been working incredibly hard over the winter, and although we would of course have liked to cover more miles in Jerez and Barcelona, I can definitely see a difference in the car from the first day to the last.
“The team’s commitment to development and improvement, both in Woking and in Japan, is astonishing, and despite some tricky days in testing, we are seeing definitive progress. The car is a solid base which gives me optimism that we will get there, we just need patience.”
On a more personal note, Button approaches his sixth campaign at McLaren with renewed vigour after the 2009 world champion had to wait until early December to be confirmed for 2015.
“I’m so excited to be back in Melbourne. After the ups and downs of 2014, I feel that the challenge of 2015 is a completely new chapter in my career and I’m totally up for it.”
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