Jenson Button looks ahead to the Australian Grand Prix and believes that in the McLaren MP4-29 the team has a car with great potential which may take a few races before it becomes apparent, while admitting he is excited as a new era dawns for the sport.
Previewing the Melbourne season opener, Button said, “I think this year’s Australian Grand Prix is going to be an absolutely fascinating sporting contest.”
“Even with stable regulations, Melbourne is usually unpredictable. This year, I don’t think anybody knows quite what to expect – will we see more than half the field at the end of the race? Will we see good, close racing? Will the pecking order pan out as we expect? Those are all questions that we’ve yet to see answered, and part of what makes for such a fun weekend.”
The 2009 Formula 1 World Champion won the race at Albert park in his championship year as a Brawn GP driver, and then again in 2012 as a McLaren driver.
“The other element that I enjoy about this race is the atmosphere and vibe that you always get in Melbourne. It’s a beautiful city, a place I always love visiting – in fact, I get there early enough to settle my body-clock and to do some training ahead of the grand prix – and the fans at the circuit are always passionate, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. It’s a great place to start what will hopefully be a fantastic year,” mused Button.
The new era is based around the all new V6 turbo power unit and related energy recovering devices. The technology is brand new, with only 12 days of real world testing which was characterised by varying problems for just about all the teams.
Button is downplaying expectations in the build-up to the weekend in Australia, “In terms of performance, while there’s plenty of potential within MP4-29, we still think it’ll take a little time to unlock that promise. It’s not quite where we’d like it to be, so I don’t think we go to Melbourne with a package that accurately reflects our progress with the car – it’ll take a little longer for that to become apparent.”
“In general, this season is going to be all about continuous development. Our stated aim has always been to try and scoop up a useful haul of points from the opening races – by virtue of solid engineering and good reliability – and then to quickly refine and develop the package, and deliver further performance in due course.”
“Nonetheless, I do think the potential is there: MP4-29 has given us what last year’s MP4-28 didn’t – namely, a reliable and predictable platform upon which we can build and develop. In every respect, this year’s car feels different to last year’s, and that makes me excited – which is exactly as things should be as you head off for the first race of the year.”
Button will be taking part in his 250th grand prix weekend in Melbourne starting with the first free practice in Melbourne on Friday. (GP247)