Chinese GP: McLaren preview

Jenson Button

Apr.9 (YF1) Vodafone McLaren Mercedes preview the forthcoming Chinese Grand Prix to take place at the Shanghai International Circuit on the weekend of 16 to 18 April 2010.

Jenson Button:
“Last year, they moved the race from the end of the season to the start, and the weekend was quite a bit colder and wetter than it had been before. The weather forecast doesn’t currently suggest this year’s event will be any different – but I’m optimistic that we’ll have a dry weekend and a more straightforward race than we did last year.

Nonetheless, it’s a track I enjoy: it’s a typical modern circuit – it has a real mix of corners, but it manages to combine some quite precise and technical sections with some faster corners and long straights. It’s a good drivers’ circuit while also being a place that benefits from a well-balanced car.

I think I’ve made some real progress in that area, though. I wasn’t completely happy with the balance of the car in Malaysia, so I spent a day back at the McLaren Technology Centre looking at how we could have done things differently in Sepang while also looking ahead to Shanghai.

Along with my engineers, I think we’ve developed an even better understanding of the MP4-25. We know how to fine-tune the car’s balance and how to develop it over a race weekend. Of course, it’s a continuous process, but the overall feeling is that we’re moving forwards – which, again, is always a positive.”

Lewis Hamilton: “It’s hard to believe that we’re heading into the fourth race of the year – the races have gone by so quickly. After Malaysia, I had a little bit of time to reflect on the year so far, and I’m pleased with the results that Jenson and I have been able to achieve in some challenging circumstances. And I’m really looking forward to an uninterrupted weekend in China so we can focus on racing and competing with the other leading teams in the championship.

I really enjoy driving here – I drove one of my best races here in 2008, winning from pole position. After three races, we’ve been satisfied with our race pace, and we feel comfortable that we’ll be up at the front. Overtaking is possible at this circuit, particularly at the end of the long back straight, so I’m pretty confident we’ll have another competitive weekend.

Finally, of all the places we visit around the world, I think the Chinese fans are some of the most passionate and dedicated. They’ve really supported me over the years and I look forward to meeting them again when I arrive in the city.”

Martin Whitmarsh,
team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “By our own very high standards, we’ve not fully met our very high expectations in the first three races, despite having what we feel is the necessary race pace to compete at the front and despite having won the Australian Grand Prix. That might sound overly self-critical, given that we are second in the constructors’ championship, and given that Jenson and Lewis are both close to the top of the drivers’ championship, but that’s merely a reflection of the fact that we at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes aim to excel at all times.

So I regard that objective as a positive: it’s our desire to improve and to eliminate mistakes from the operation that will make us stronger championship contenders. There’s no denying that our successes – Jenson’s integration into the team, his win in Melbourne, and some of the greatest drives of Lewis’s career – have given us a great early-season boost. Now we are looking to establish ourselves as consistent challengers at the front, and to pick up the maximum available points on a regular basis.

One of the greatest qualities of this team is its considerable strength in depth. After establishing a strong and solid start to the season, we’re confident that we’ll become an even more formidable contender as we head into China and then the start of the European season.”