McLaren pairing Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen are braced for a tough Australian Grand Prix on Sunday after both drivers endured the team’s worst qualifying performance since the 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix.
With the Honda-powered MP4-30 well down on power and reliability, it was no surprise to see both drivers will occupy the last row of the grid for the 58-lap race; Button qualified 17th-fastest, one spot and six-tenths of a second better than Magnussen.
With the car never having managed a close to completing race distance without breaking down during the pre-season, the focus of both drivers is to get as much track mileage as possible.
“This level of performance wasn’t a surprise for us: we knew from winter testing that the pace wasn’t there, so we knew we weren’t going to be competitive here,” Button, a three-time winner in Melbourne, said after qualifying.
“However, there’s a good feeling about the car – I know we’re so far off, but the basic car is there beneath me, and we’re adding to our experience and learning with every lap we do.
“And that’s really impressed me – we’ve gone through our first race weekend together, and we’ve managed to solve each issue that’s confronted us. There’s just a lot of work needed to add power and downforce – but this is an important car for the future of McLaren-Honda.
“It’s going to be a really difficult race for us – we haven’t done a race distance yet, and my longest run is 12 laps – but we want to do the best we can because there’s so much learning to be had. It’ll be a tough day, but we’ll be doing our absolute best.”
Teammate Magnussen – standing in for the unwell Fernando Alonso this weekend – added that the only way McLaren could head was up.
“For tomorrow’s race, we’re not really focused on getting points – they’re not really on the cards for us – but we’ll go racing tomorrow to try and learn,” the Dane added.
“We haven’t done a full race distance yet, so progress tomorrow will be important. If we can finish, we’ll learn a lot; and, even if we don’t, there’ll still be something useful to take home.”
Image via XPB Images