Button: At times the MP4-28 feels good, at others it doesn’t

Jenson Button

Jenson Button has mixed feelings abou the Mclaren MP4-28

Jenson Button has admitted McLaren is grappling with its new car for 2013, as unlike most other main rivals – notably Red Bull and Ferrari – McLaren did not simply’evolve last year’s car for the new season.

Despite winning the 2012 season finale in Brazil late last year, McLaren’s contrasting philosophy was that development of the 2012 concept was almost exhausted, and so an all new base was necessary.

Button explained that, had the Woking team simply evolved the MP4-27, “I think after three or four races you would realise that you’re at the end of the development curve with it”.

The problem right now, though, is that McLaren is struggling to “understand where the car is”.

Button continued: “At times it feels good, at others it doesn’t.”

Jenson Button

Jenson Button concerned in Barcelona

There are whispers in the paddock that arguably the best-performing car at the present moment is the evolved Lotus.

Romain Grosjean did a four-stop race simulation on Thursday, and team boss Eric Boullier beamed afterwards that – towards the end of the faux race – the E21 seemed to be showing potentially grand prix-winning pace.

“It (Lotus’ pace) certainly was not bad,” Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg told Auto Motor und Sport. “But Lotus was also good here during winter testing last year.”

McLaren’s Button thinks it’s too early to say if there’s a standout performer in 2013.

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren talks with the media

Jenson Button talks to media in Barcelona

“I don’t know,” he said. “All I know is that no one is massively standing out.”

Meanwhile Red Bull’s outspoken Dr Helmut Marko said this week he didn’t understand why McLaren changed so much between 2012 and 2013.

Mark Webber agrees: “This sport is hard enough – and the cars difficult enough to understand technically – without taking risks unnecessarily.”

Indeed, things appear to be going well in the Red Bull camp.

“I’m very happy with the car, with the balance, how it feels,” Germany’s SID news agency quotes world champion Sebastian Vettel as saying. (GMM)