McLaren driver Jenson Button believes that the team’s recent run of stronger performances should continue at this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.
The team has failed to relive the heights of its double-podium finish at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, but recent races have shown a steady improvement in form which have allowed the team to improve to fifth in the standings, moving it ahead of Force India. The gap between the two teams was reduced to a single point, but the margin should have been bigger were it not for a pair of driving infringement penalties handed out to Button’s teammate, Kevin Magnussen.
Despite this, the 2009 World Champion is upbeat about the team’s chances this weekend, and feels that the higher-downforce requirements of the Marina Bay Circuit will reshuffle the midfield battle.
“Monza showed us that this formula [the new technical regulations] is working – we had some fantastically close battles in Italy, and I really hope that we continue that in Singapore,” he said ahead of this weekend’s night race. “It’s not the easiest of tracks for racing, but I think the new regulations are in fact making the racing better. I’m really looking forward to getting out on track and seeing what these cars can do.
“We had a positive showing at Spa and Monza, and we’re continuing to develop and improve the car. As we move back to higher-downforce circuits, it’ll be interesting to see how the pack reshuffles itself – I think we’ll still be able to maintain our forward momentum.”
McLaren sporting director Eric Boullier was somewhat more circumspect, and used his pre-event media briefing to urge the entire McLaren crew to ‘dig deep’ as the Woking team gets set to end its twenty-year partnership with Mercedes ahead of its switch to Honda power in the off-season.
“The start of the fly-aways marks the final chapter of the world championship season,” the Frenchman added. “It’s a time when the whole team needs to dig deep as we continue our work to improve the car and carry some positive momentum across the winter and into next year. It’s an important time for everyone – and it will be interesting to see how our car responds to the return to the high-downforce circuits that proliferate for the remainder of the year.”
Boullier also expressed some nerves about the challenges that the FIA’s change in the rules governing pit-to-car communications, which now forbid certain messages between the team and its drivers.
“We are still evaluating the full consequences of the new interpretation of Article 20.1 of the FIA Sporting Regulations, but, as a team, we will of course find a solution that works and which follows this new interpretation. Singapore is a difficult race to manage under normal circumstances, so this will definitely add an extra dimension to our preparations,” he added.
Image via XPB Images