Jenson Button out to resolve problems at McLaren
Jenson Button believes that a meeting of McLaren’s top brass will prove to be no holds barred in a bid to get to the bottom of the team’s woes.
Just four weeks ago in Canada, team-mate Lewis Hamilton grabbed a stirring victory to reclaim the lead in the championship race.
However, two races later, Hamilton has crashed to 37 points behind Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso after a disappointing British Grand Prix in which both McLarens were hopelessly off the pace.
As for Button, he has endured his share of issues after a solid start to the campaign, notably winning the opener in Australia.
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But after another sorry run at Silverstone, extending his woeful record to 13 races without a podium, the 32-year-old was left to point an accusing finger at an under-performing car.
Now 79 points adrift of Alonso, Button’s title hopes are all but over after collecting just seven from the last six grands prix, which means answers will be sought at today’s meeting at the team headquarters in Woking.
Button said: “You don’t look at the title picture until the last few races.
“Instead you just drive and you try to pick up as many points as you can, but lately that’s been difficult for me.
“As a team, the last few races have been difficult and we’re now fourth in the constructors’ (championship).
“That’s something we have to sort out because we can’t end the season there, or worse. We have to improve.
“We’ve (got) a technical meeting, which is going to be a sombre one, but I’m sure everyone is going to be very aggressive about trying to improve this car.
“This is a team that’s won multiple world championships and you have two guys in the hot seat that have won world titles as well – and have been very competitive over the last couple of years.
“We will get back to being strong, it’s just a matter of time. I just hope it happens sooner rather than later.”
At Silverstone, Button felt McLaren had slipped to the midfield, an alarming fall from grace given Hamilton’s win in Montreal.
“We don’t have the pace of the top three teams. At the moment we are racing Williams, Sauber and Force India,” said Button.
“That’s where we are – and personally I don’t feel they had the best weekend. If they had had a good day they would have beaten us, which shows we’ve a lot of work to do.
“I know I’ve had my personal issues with the car, but I feel I’ve not had them the last couple of races, and (on Sunday) I definitely didn’t have them. We just didn’t have the pace and I think Lewis struggled more than I did with the car. When you see a car come past you like you’re stood still then it is a surprise and you think ‘Well, how good does their car feel? It must be on rails all the way around’. I don’t know where we’re missing out. I don’t know how so many teams can be getting it right and we can’t.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has vowed a more visible upgrade package will be on the cars for the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim on July 22, notably pertaining to the rear.
The race will be Lewis Hamilton’s 100th in Formula One, not that the 27-year-old will feel much like celebrating if McLaren fail to again close the gap on their rivals.
“Wow! Time’s flying by. I’m getting older,” said Hamilton on the impending landmark.
“It’s going to be a good one. Hopefully we’ll have this upgrade package because it was a tough race.”
The bigger picture for Hamilton is whether he stays or leaves McLaren given his contract expires this year.
Whitmarsh is convinced a race such as the one at the weekend and the slump the team are in will have no bearing on Hamilton’s eventual decision.
Whitmarsh said: “I think he’s smarter than that. He’s got to want to stay in this team, which I believe he does.”