Button says Red Bull and Ferrari are out of reach

2011 F1 testing

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Jenson Button, McLaren, Barcelona, 2011

Jenson Button says he does not expect McLaren to be able to compete with Red Bull and Ferrari from the first race of the new season.

Speaking to journalists following today’s test at the Circuit de Catalunya he said: “I don’t think we are as quick as the Red Bulls and I don’t know about Ferrari.

“The car felt relatively good and it would have been nice to have had more time to change the set-up. I feel a lot more at home in the car at this test.

“We worked a little on longer runs this afternoon with high fuel, which we have made progress on. It’s a pity I only have one more day in the car, I would have liked more, but that’s all I’ve got so I’ll have to make the most of it."

"I will be surprised if we can match the Red Bull or Ferrari when we get to Melbourne, that’s a big ask considering the mileage we’ve had compared to them and the pace from the last test. It’s going to be tricky but never say never.

“I’m quite impressed with the steps forward we have made. With more work on the set-up this week we’ll see how close we can get to them.”

He added: “There’s still work needed to be as quick as a Red Bull or a Ferrari and one or two teams but we are moving forward so that’s a good feeling. The guys have done a great job working on the cars performance and reliability.

“This is only the first day of a four day test, we hope for a lot more mileage tomorrow. The laps I actually spent on the circuit today on low and high fuel, were quite good improvements after what I experienced at the last test. It’s not perfect and it’s not ready for the first race but we have to be happy with the progress made.”

Given their form in testing so far Button said it wouldn’t be bad if their car was only the third-quickest to begin with: “You’re not going to be happy being the third fastest team.

“However, I don’t think it would be that bad to third quickest team at the start of the season as you can do a lot from that position. Considering last few tests, we would be relatively happy if we were third fastest team.

“There are no guarantees we are. I haven’t got a clue who is up there, you can obviously say Ferrari and Red Bull are very consistent. There have been many other cars setting quick times on different days so if you can be up in third position, that’s a good thing at the moment.

“Getting points at the early stage of the year is so important, you can gain a haul of points whilst others around you are struggling to figure out where they are."

Button played down suggestions the team were having more difficulty than others in making their tyres last: “I don’t think we have worse tyre wear than others. I think even those cars who appear to have more downforce than us are still having degradation with their tyres, as that’s the way the tyres are designed. I think everybody is struggling with degradation, it’s an area I think we are all working on to make the best of what we have.

“It’s going to be very important when we get to Melbourne, it’s a F1 car and you want to push it as hard as you can. Sometimes it feels you can do that and suddenly you don’t have the grip any more. It’s a difficult situation and I think those drivers who understand the tyre well will perform well at the first race.”

Button said the team ran their new exhaust today but may not use it throughout the rest of the test.

He also explained the unusual bulge on the car’s nose seen briefly during today’s test: "Did you like the nose? I actually quite like it. It was quite fast so I might ask to keep it.

“Our nose is quite low compared to a lot of cars, we can see fine. You can see the car moving a lot which is quite strange to see.

“It’s a device that’s checking out certain things on the car, I don’t think it’s anything we’ll be racing. We should have said it’s a new part really, I even went quicker with it!”

Quotes and additional reporting by Leandra Graves

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    55 comments on “Button says Red Bull and Ferrari are out of reach”

    1. I don’t think it’s any thing we’ll be racing

      Doh!! And there’s me hoping they’ll attach a JCB bucket to it as well…

      .. I think it makes it more physically attractive to dolphins, and types of whale.

      1. Good thing he keeps smiling. Don’t worry, be happy all the way JcB!

        First open admitment, they are not there. Will be an uphill battle, and they will be hoping for Red Bull and Ferrari to mess up a few races.

        I am wondering a bit about the “new exhauts”. In pictures it showed these are pretty much conventional exhausts so what is new? Or does it mean the mysterious U bend solution has been ditched for now.

        1. His unexpected championship is in the bag – job done, it’s fun and anything’s a bonus for the rest of his career! ;)

          1. Agree.. he has already surpassed his career goals. I’m sure he is fine with just blaming the balance of the car and lack of grip and cruising the car home.

            1. Hehehe that might be true, lol

      2. They should have painted the nose red for comic relief :)

    2. Bahrain being cancelled this weekend is arguably Mclarens gain, seems that the car and team has gone forward since the last test. Button always seems an honest guy who will speak his mind, so im more inclined to believe him when he says the cars better. Good to see, i want atleast 3 cars duking it for wins and not a 1/2 horse race every time.

      1. I read that last line as “half-horse race”. Haha.

        1. lol. oyeah, but only the front half ;) Damien Hirst has the rest.

        2. So did I. In reality, even if McLaren isn’t at the front, we could see a 3 or 4 horse race. Renault definitely has some potential, and Mercedes and Williams have both had better showings than McLaren so far in testing. Can’t wait for the fly aways to get a better picture of the field.

          1. Megawatt Herring
            8th March 2011, 23:43

            I would love to see Williams competative again however it is so hard to tell the exact pecking order from testing can’t wait for Melborne, first race of the season and at a good track, there will be a DO NOT DISTURB sign on my door all weekend.

          2. SeattleChris
            9th March 2011, 0:51

            @US Pete,

            Don’t rule out Sauber this year… Both Ferrari powered cars look like they are in good form.

            I know that Perez cut a chic, but the car is still much improved over last year and I think that guy is the real deal when it comes to speed. Two years on he will drive for a top team and be uber competitive!

    3. Button says Red Bull and Ferrari are out of reach

      One enemy less for Ferrari. Looks like this year it’ll be close.

      1. One enemy less for Ferrari. Looks like this year it’ll be close.

        Yeah. It looks like it’ll be just the 2 Red Bull’s and 1 Ferrari in the running at the moment.

        Not sure how it can be “close” if there are only 3 cars in it?

        1. It is apparent you missed last year’s championship………..

          1. When 5 cars were in it?

        2. Close meaning the fight will be closed to those 4 cars (I hope Felipe can join) and not open to 6 cars.

    4. Didn’t he say the same last season despite a relatively good testing season? And then he’d won two races by the time they got to Europe…

      Take it with a pinch of salt I say. At least one of the Mclaren cars will be there or thereabouts in the early races. Though perhaps not the one with Jenson in it…..

      1. He did indeed, however he was also correct last year. The Ferrari and the red bull were much out of the box. Mclaren were fighting with mercedes at the first race last year

    5. I doubt, as only the 5th quickest of the big 6 (ham, alo, mas, vet, web, but), button will challenge at all this year in a car that is third at best and possibly as low as 6th if renault, williams and mercedes are all quicker. It is up to Hamilton alone to fight to obtain the drivers title and the chance of the constructors is nil

      1. It is up to Hamilton alone to fight to obtain the drivers title and the chance of the constructors is nil

        Sounds like a cue for team orders?

        I don’t think that McLaren hired Button so that they wouldn’t stand any chance of winning the constructors championship.

        Maybe if they hadn’t self inflicted unreliability on themselves by failing to remove the bung from Button’s radiator inlet, they might have got a bit closer to at least one of their goals.

        1. Yeah, Button getting 4 points extra in Monaco would have clinched the constructors championship “for sure”.

          1. Having the ‘Champion’ running into you doesn’t help either. :)

            Yet another ‘avoidable’ accident.

            1. Considering that it was the champion who lost points for Red Bull with that clash… it makes absolutely no difference!

            2. But then Vettel was able to continue.

              He could have scored some points if he hadn’t continued on with his rampage.

    6. I like the fact that Button is honest about certain things. I just don’t like the fact he has to!

      1. I read that as ‘I just don’t like his face’ – I need coffee, it’s too early :(

    7. Believe Jenson, Believe!

      1. The first step of losing is telling yourself that you can’t win.

        1. Hardly, just cause you know that you’re a loser doesn’t change the fact that you are one!

          1. my bad, thought you said “Can win”

        2. I don’t think that he said he couldn’t win.

    8. “There’s still work needed to be as quick as a Red Bull or a Ferrari and one or two teams but we are moving forward so that’s a good feeling

      It still seems that depsite Jenson’s never failing positive attitude Mclaren still are a little nervous abtout their performance. Not surprising as it is testing and it’s all guess work but it’s not something I’d expected from Mclaren before the pre season tests.

      1. “Jenson’s never failing positive attitude”

        Lol, nice one.

    9. I think that Red Bulls coming of age has left Mclaren with the third best car.

    10. That McLaren nose thing seems to be testing the force going through the edges of the front wing.

      Expect a flexi one towards the end of the test.

    11. Question remains. “Why McLaren is so much behind than the other front-row teams? I really can’t tell. A team of that range shouldn’t be doing mistakes.

      1. Wobblebottom
        8th March 2011, 22:20

        Totally agree. But that is McLaren. Considering their vast resources, they have underperformed as a team for the last 20 years!!

    12. “Getting points at the early stage of the year is so important, you can gain a haul of points whilst others around you are struggling to figure out where they are.”

      The man should know what he is talking about here.The key to his WDC.

    13. You have to make hay while the sun shines and Button probably knew probably better than anyone that his car wouldn’t be the best on the grid for long in 2009.

      1. Are you implying Button knows his car won’t be the best for long this coming season? Isn’t it a bit early to predict that given the fact the championship is yet to start? Let’s forgo the fact that Button claims his car is not the best…….
        Are you making hay in the middle of the night?

    14. Aris I fail to understand how because Mclaren are a top team with huge resources they shouldn’t make mistakes everyone does. Ferrari made mistakes in 2005 and 2009. Mclaren just haven’t quite found the trick to the red bull and ferrari’s pace.

      They will get their. Toyota had huge resources and they made a pigs ear of the season even when they had a good car.

      1. The fact that you need to compare Mclaren with Toyota only highlights their plight. Mclaren have a history and racing pedigree that Toyota did not so, like Ferrari, success is expected of them.

        A more meaningful comparison would be with Red Bull who as relative newcomers and with a smaller budget have become the class of the field. Worse still for Mclaren is that Red Bull’s prize asset defected because he felt he was too constrained at Woking.

        I think the fact that they have yet again produced another troublesome car is exposing endemic problems rather than their ‘missing a trick’ as you suggest.

        Sorry but the current media/sponsor/TV presenter-friendly incarnation of Mclaren is getting left behind where it really matters.

    15. That was meant to say seasons they contested.

    16. McLaren have out-innovated themselves again. The beluga nose does kind of go with the sidepods though.

      1. I tend to agree you. The 2011 is so radically different from the 2010 that one can’t help but believe that they were trying to leap frog the RB rather than simply refine the aero on the 2010 to get that extra down force that eluded them last season.

        But having said that, it may be that the 2010 had reached it full potential for aero development so hence the radical new design.

        Sometime you have to go for broke. Let’s see how the car develops over the next few races, I think it’s still a bit too early to write it off.

        I’m a Ferrari fan, but even I don’t want to see a slow Macca.

        1. I think you right with your second comment, there is no way they could of developed the 2010 much more and without its massive diffuser it would of been at the back of the grid.
          They had no choice but to start again.

    17. Wow. Considering Mclaren are pretty PR heavy, all I’ve heard Jenson and Lewis say about the car is how it ain’t that great. I wouldn’t be settling for ‘third quickest’ if I were either of them.

    18. eternalsunshine
      9th March 2011, 2:07

      My heart sank reading the article. Despite the positivity in future development, they will still lag behind as other teams will continue developing.

      1. From what I gather, Button states the car is OK, but they just do not have enough time to get a good basic setup to fine tune in the race weekends.
        Meaning that will cost them relative to their rivals.

        1. OK… but over a second slower than Vettel so far today… I suppose its a different day so that might not be fair, however I do think Button was light yesterday for the headline run and still couldn’t top Webber.

    19. I’ve heard this before from Macca…. the car sucks… it’s slow and then they show up and do ok… the lack of testing has certainly hurt them and the tests seem to show that…
      but they’ve sandbagged before… so it comes down to once again… you never really know until Australia… 8)

    20. I read somewhere that it takes time to get to know and understand your car.. hence why ferrari and red bull dont appear to have changed much since last season, because they know how their cars work and have pretty much just tweaked them here and there to comply with the new rules..

      Where as McLaren, they have come with a pretty much all new car this season and have yet to ‘learn’ it. some say foolish, some say brave.. give it a few races and i think we’ll see.

      i might be kidding myself but i think that once they get to grips with the 26 they’ll be the team to catch.

      ..well i hope so anyway

    21. ok, let me say this first: i was about to buy a pic-up truck, the Ford F150 and before i knew i had a formula 1 car in my garage. so it`s fair that ford sued ferrari to prevent any misanderstanding and to not have their quality pic-up be assosiated with a smal, hardly known, italian car makers cheap racing car.
      Now i have that of my chest, let us have a look of what we have been seeing over last few weeks.
      one thing is sure: team Newey has done a good job again and will be very fast right from the start. they have 2 good drivers. vettel is fast and when he is leading very hard to beat but when he isn`t he makes mistakes, webber knows that this can be his last chance to clinch the title so he will give it his all and i think ther`s no one how dosen`t want him to win(not counting the other f1 drivers).But will he be as fast as vetel?
      you should never underestimate Ferrari(team Alonso). they seem to have a bulletproof car wich seems to be almost as fast as redbull on a single lap but is faster on the longer runs and wich is very kind to the new pirelli tyers. and lets not forget they do have Fernando Alonso who is the most complete driver of them all. Massa has to up himself if he dosen`t want to become the clear number 2 within the team.

      so how about team Hamilton? they don`t seem to have the pace yet but what is more worring is the fact that they are also not reliable. i have no doubt they will make the car faster and make it a winning car but how long will that take and will they be in the chase for the title? and what will button do once the team, being in a dificult position, will give hamilton more of everything than him?

      who will be the surprise of the season? i think it will be the good old williams. Rubens is still driving like a 21 years old fresh driver but with a lot more experience and they seem to have a beter car than they had in years. the other surprise could be renault, but that remains to bee seen. Heidfeld is no kubica and they had a better deal giving the second deal to Bruno Senna than to Petrof. he is fast some times but makes way to much mistakes….

      and let us not forget Merc, i never was a schumi fan but i can`t help wanting him to have a good car en win some races. or at least beat Rosberg. but thats just what i would like to see…the reality is that the car is too slow and will not be at the front. Will Ross be able to make the car fast enoght to win races?

      and how about the smal teams? HTR? lets hope they make the start of the season.
      team lotus: i realy hope they are faster than last year en finish in the points onc or twice.
      Virgin: well they aren`t no f1 virgin anymore but will they be fast? i don`t think so. the fact that they still use only the CFD is not a smart thing to do. if it was the way to go than mclaren or ferrari would do the same. they have better and faster computers then virgin and yet they don`t trust on the simulation.

      Sauber: Kobayashi is a sensational driver but can he help the team to improve the car? i`m not sure. he has only one season under his belt and his teammate is a rookie so that will not help the team either. if kobayashican improve himself even ore than he`ll be the first japanees driver to drive for a top team sooner or later.

      STR: car looks good, drivers are not that bad, but they are not sure os their place inside the team and that will not help them to go faster.

      force India: good solid team, good drivers, merc engin will help a lot on topspeed just like last year so if they have a good car they could be in yhe race for point at the most races. they have the best rookie with paul di resta. this will be a imporant season for them.

      this yearv the flexiwing saga will continue and there will be a lot of modifications to the exhoust.

      anyway it`s going to be a great season i`m sure so i cant wait for it to start.

      1. Virgin: well they aren`t no f1 virgin anymore but will they be fast? i don`t think so. the fact that they still use only the CFD is not a smart thing to do. if it was the way to go than mclaren or ferrari would do the same. they have better and faster computers then virgin and yet they don`t trust on the simulation.

        Something about Virgin. Their (Wirth Research’s) CFD facilites are the third largest in the world, so on pure computing power they are probably leading the class. Nick Wirth (technical director) also said that they are doing more CFD than any other team, because they are using the maximum amount of CFD allowed by FOTA. And as they do that, they are not allowed to do any wind tunnel testing at all.

        Certainly the all-CFD approach is not as bullet proof as CFD + wind tunnel, but you have to remember that they are a small team with a small budget. They can’t afford to do as much wind tunnel work as other teams (apart from HRT), so they have decided to stick with CFD, which is cheaper and allows them to do more development work.

        Now I’m not denying that their car would probably be faster if they had done some wind tunnel work, but I respect their way of making things differently. Even though it doesn’t seem that they are going to be very competitive this year.

        I see Virgin’s approach as the way of the future. If they can build a competitive car in let’s say two or three years (if they hang around that long), then that’s a sign for other newcomers that it is possible to join the sport and build a reasonably fast car with a small budget. And that will be good for the sport.

        In the mean time, they have a lot of work to do. The car seems to suffer from some aeroproblems in the rear, and that must have something to do with a problem in their CFD simulation. But as they keep on solving these problems, they will understand more and more about their tool and hopefully they get more and more competitive.

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