McLaren: We are struggling a bit to be honest

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-28.
Jenson Button McLaren MP4-28

McLaren team and drivers report from the first day of practice for the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne, Round 1 of the 2013 Formula 1 world championship.

Jenson Button MP4-28A-05
FP1 1m28.440s (+1.229s) 19 laps 9th
FP2 1m28.294s (+2.386s) 30 laps 11th
“Clearly, we’re not as quick as we’d like to be, so our task now is to work hard to find out why our car is like it is, particularly in terms of ride and downforce. Our short runs weren’t particularly encouraging, to be honest. We’re a couple of seconds off the pace, by the looks of things, and that’s always going to be disappointing for a team as successful as Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. But, in a situation like this one, all you can say is that there’s a hell of a lot of work for us to do – and that we’re well up for it. This team is incredibly good at turning things around, performance-wise, when that’s what’s required. So we’ll now spend the next few hours working hard, studying our data, and I’m confident that we’ll be able to find some improvements for tomorrow. Qualifying won’t be easy, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to do a better job on Saturday than we’ve done today.”

Sergio Perez MP4-28A-06
FP1 1m28.597s (+1.386s) 19 laps 11th
FP2 1m28.566s (+2.658s) 33 laps 13th
“We’re struggling a bit, to be honest. We aren’t as competitive here as we’d wanted to be. But we’re working on it – and, as Jenson says, we should be able to find some improvements for tomorrow. But, going forward, I know exactly how good Vodafone McLaren Mercedes’ technical guys are – I’ve seen it from the outside before and I’m seeing it from the inside now – and there’s no doubt that they can close the gap to the cars ahead better and faster than anyone else. We have an incredible team spirit too, which is fantastic to be a part of. Lastly, it’s important to remember that the Australian Grand Prix is only the first race of the season, and that there’s a long road ahead of us. We knew before we came here that we wouldn’t be as quick as some of the other teams, but our task is still to score as many World Championship points as we can. The competition in Formula 1 is incredibly intense, and every World Championship point counts.”

Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“Well, today has been a very challenging day. Our car appears to be lacking in grip and consistency, and is suffering from significant understeer and poor ride. Try as we might, we didn’t move forward in performance terms during the course of the day, either. But, having said that, we’ve collected a lot of data, and we’ll be working extremely hard this evening and tonight in an effort to utilise that data in order to do whatever we can to effect improvements. Moreover, you don’t win World Championships in the first Grand Prix of the year; you win World Championships by managing the progressive development of your car from its baseline in Australia in March all the way through its development journey towards its final destination: Brazil in November. As I said a couple of weeks ago, our car is complex. Perhaps we haven’t yet worked out how best to harness its potential, but we believe that potential is there.”