Button: We don’t have the pace of the top three teams

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren. Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Practice, Silverstone, England, Friday 6 July 2012.

Jenson Button in the cockpit of the McLaren MP4-27 at Silverstone

Jul.10 (Reuters) Jenson Button will be looking for answers when McLaren’s top technical brains meet on Tuesday to try and find out why their car has become so slow, as  the Woking team had a deeply disappointing British Grand Prix at Silverstone with Lewis Hamilton, a winner in Canada only last month, finishing eighth and Button 10th.

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27. Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday 8 July 2012.Button, the 2009 world champion and winner of the season-opening race in Australia, is now a hefty 79 points adrift of Ferrari‘s championship leader Fernando Alonso with 11 races remaining. Hamilton is 37 points off the Spaniard’s total.

“We don’t have the pace of the top three teams. At the moment we are racing the Williams, the Sauber and the Force India,” Button said candidly. “That’s where we are at the moment and, personally, I don’t feel they had the best weekend… I feel that if the Williams and Sauber had a good day, they would have beaten us. So we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Button, who has never stood on his home grand prix podium in 13 attempts and who qualified 16th in a rain soaked qualifying, said the team had got their strategy right and the pitstops – so troublesome this season – were perfect. A notably smooth driver, Button has struggled to get crucial heat into the tricky Pirelli tyres but the 32-year-old felt there was much more to it than that.

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27. Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday 7 July 2012.“We just didn’t have the pace,” he told Reuters. “The balance doesn’t feel too bad, on high speed corners the car is reasonable, on low speed it’s not fantastic but not bad. So when you see a car come past you like you’re just stood still it’s a surprise…I don’t know where we are missing out, I don’t know how so many teams can be getting it right and we can’t.”

McLaren have now slipped from second to fourth in the constructors’ championship, behind Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus – a shock for a team who have finished the last seven seasons in the top three. Hamilton, the 2008 champion who has yet to agree a contract extension after this year, said on Sunday that he feared his title hopes could disappear unless the team picked up the pace.

The next grand prix is at Hockenheim in Germany, on July 22, which Hamilton won last year and where McLaren should have a good upgrade package. Immediately after that comes Hungary, which Button won in 2011.

(L to R): Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren andd Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) McLaren Chief Executive Officer at a team photo. Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday 26 November 2011.“I’m not desperate but I am worried,” admitted team principal Martin Whitmarsh, when asked about McLaren’s current situation.

Button’s next comment could be interpreted as a warning to Whitmarsh that McLaren needs to work hard to improve the below par MP4-27, “I wonder what would happen if you put another driver in it?”

“I bet they would get a real shock,” mused Button.

“We’ve got to improve. We’ve got a technical meeting on Tuesday which is going to be quite a sombre meeting but we’re going to be quite aggressive, everyone in the meeting, about trying to improve this car,” concluded Button.

Subbed by AJN.

  • Jody Renza

    It is so close now with the Pirelli adding spice, that even that eluded half a second improvement can rocket you to a podium.Mclaren did not improve,they lost pace somehow & their pitstops cost them to still be in the hunt. You don’t win championships,you win by updates on a good basic car. Hope they can be better in Germany!

  • McLaren Fan

    If anyone can find the magic button to gain that pace it is McLaren but it is as Damon Hill said all the others have found the secret but haven’t told McLaren.

  • Speedo

    McLaren does not have the pace when compared to even the Lotus, Sauber and Williams. I do not think they will find it this season – unbelievable. If they do not get it right Lewis and Jenson can say good bye to the WDC. Constructors? They will be around 5th or 6th. The worst performance of the McLaren team. They better get going and find the pace fast.

  • Butterfly

    I’m glad the myth about McLaren’s ability to out-develop its rivals has been busted.

    That superhuman effort from 2009 was all Pat Fry’s work, which is now Ferrari TD.