Jenson Button, McLaren, Barcelona, 2012

McLaren not well-suited to Monaco, says Button

2012 Monaco Grand Prix

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Jenson Button, McLaren, Barcelona, 2012Jenson Button says the MP4-27 isn’t the ideal car for the tight, slow Monte-Carlo track.

“Our car isn?t especially suited to the tighter confines of a track like Monaco,” said Button. However, he added, “I?m optimistic of getting on top of the balance issues that have affected me for the past two races. It?s going to be a fantastic weekend.”

Button won the race for Brawn in 2009 and finished on the podium last year after a late charge was interrupted by the race being red-flagged.

He said: “I remember last year having a fantastic car beneath me and feeling really confident that I could challenge for the win.

“As it happened, circumstances beyond our control worked to pull that opportunity away from us, but I go back to Monte-Carlo with a little bit of unfinished business.”

Team mate Lewis Hamilton is looking to improve on eighth place in the last two races at the track where he won in 2008:

“It?s important not to lose sight of the fact that, despite pushing for the win, consistency and scoring decent points is currently the most sensible way to tackle this world championship.

“I?ve scored points at every race, and I?m only eight points off the lead of the championship. That?s a really encouraging statistic and it?s reassuring to see my approach is paying off.

“Nevertheless, I?m coming off the back of two relatively disappointing results and there would be no better place for the cards to fall in my favour than at Monaco.”

2012 Monaco Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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61 comments on “McLaren not well-suited to Monaco, says Button”

  1. I guess Button could say the same about Barcelona. Lets see what Hamilton have to say about it saturday.

    1. Exactly. Jenson is going to look a tad daft saying this if and when Lewis gets a proper run at the track this year – which I think basically means McLaren not messing anything up! Given this circuit seems to have brought out the worst in the team’s clumsiness the last few years, and given the mistakes so far this year, it will take some doing, but here’s hoping.

    2. jimscreechy (@)
      19th May 2012, 8:04

      Hmmm well at least he’s getting his excuses out of the way before the race weekend. You have to give him a little credit for forward thinking if nothing else.

      1. Dude, trust me… all we’re gonna be hearing on Jenson’s radio during the entire weekend is how he cannot find the right balance, how he doesn’t have enough grip, how the car is understeering, how the car is now suddenly oversteering, how his tyres aren’t working for him and how changing track conditions ruined his weekend.

        This is just a pre-race weekend warning given to us by Jenson.

  2. Monaco will be Red Bull track, they are the best in slower sections and Marko confirmed that RB8 is well suited to this track.

    1. Where did he say that?

      1. He said after Barcelona: “Unser Auto ist in langsamen Kurven besser, das sollte sich in Monte Carlo auszahlen.” =”Our car is better in slower corners, this should pay off in Monte Carlo”
        Last quote here:
        Later he also admitted that Williams should be fast there.

    2. Marko would say every track is suited to the RB8.

  3. “Button not well-suited to McLaren, says Monaco”

    Sorry I thought it was meant to be a driver’s track where car deficiencies were less significant!

    1. Haha, great!

  4. He’s starting to sound like the broken Trulli record from last year (my power steering is no good) when he bemoans the MP4-27’s balance…d’oh that’s down to you and your engineer to get right……

  5. I’m a Button fan, i like him but this ‘balance issues’ thing has being his complaint his entire career, sadly i don’t think he has a great brain for setting up a car. He and Lewis aren’t strong enough in this area to move McLaren forward.

    1. Saw some video or other with Lewis and Jenson trying to explain the significance of the EBD loss for this year, Lewis was trying to figure it out in his head as he was talking, which I expected, but Jenson didn’t seem to have a good handle on how it worked either which was a surprise. I guess Rosberg with his aerospace degree is quite an anomaly in F1.

      1. I didn’t see the video you are talking about I think so I don’t know if I’m reading your post correctly what it is they were trying to explain.

        But I think there is a not insignificant chance that the problem they were having is not how the EBD worked, or what it did or felt like and what not having it feels like this year, but rather how to explain that in layman’s terms. There is so much jargon in any job that goes into any sort of detail, that sometimes it’s hard to say what you mean without resorting to jargon. And that might be simply because there are no equivalent “normal” words, or because “normal” words have been appropriated and used in non-standard ways. Like for example “primes” and “options”.

      2. Wikipedia says he was merely offered a place at Imperial in 2005, which he rejected. Makes sense – can’t see him holding a degree while focusing on his racing career.

        Anyway, bright chap.

      3. Drop Valencia!
        19th May 2012, 3:10

        Some people expect the drivers to know it all, this is almost never the case, infact there has only ever been one driver that practically knew it all…..

  6. I wonder what Button means, more specifically. He Usually provides a lot more detailed fedback. Considering that the MP4-27 has been there or thereabouts in almost all circumstances, Im surprised to hear him say this. The car doesnt seem to have any major fundamental flaws, and Hamilton does not seem to suffer from the balance issues that have plagued Button of late.

    It just seems to be an odd thing to say, I guess. It only adds to my anticipation for this race though!

    1. @hallard well every driver has a completely unique balance they favour, so it’s unfair to compare one driver’s complaints about balance, to another’s. For example, I remember a BBC interview last year asking whether or not driver’s prefer understeer of oversteer. JB said understeer and LH said oversteer, so you can bet the balance they like/can manage is hugely different.

      1. Jenson seems to have a narrower range that he can work within.

        1. I agree timi , also the garage should be able to locate everything that happens on track,
          Also they afraid of losing Lewis so Jenson no chance this year

      2. @timi Yea I think this is fairly telling when we’re talking about setting up two identical cars in very different ways. No simple feat. Yes, they have massive resources and data, but working with a bleeding-edge machine will never be easy no matter what the situation is.

      3. @timi-

        That’s a fair point and I agree, but my post actually wasnt intended as a criticism of Button. I’m a big fan of Button, actually, and I really like how he typically provides more detailed information than most drivers (to the fans/press, at least) about how his car is behaving. Thus, in this case, I suppose I was looking for him to elaborate more on why he thinks the Monaco circuit wont particularly suit the MP4-27.


        1. @hallard Ahh I get you, my bad. Yeah you’re right, I can’t make out what to think of his lack of detail this time. It seems as if it’s intentional. May be the car sucks in general (looking at it’s pace in the last few races), so he doesn’t want to raise expectations. Who knows!! I just hope it’s a good race and he’s in the mix.

          Sorry again for misunderstanding your original comment!

          1. No worries, and no apologies necessary :)

            I, too, get the impression that maybe Jenson is just trying to temper expectations to a certain extent. That said, I do think he’ll bring a good haul of points from Monaco, even if he doesnt get the win.

  7. Funny Button says that, since the McLaren was the quickest car through the tight-twist last sector in Barcelona, which is historically a good sign for Monaco performance.

    Button getting his early excuses in?

    1. lol this passed through my mind but I wasn’t going to be the first one to say it. He has a bit of time to turn this season around yet..

    2. Actually looking at the qualifying sector times Maldonado was the quickest through there. Hamilton was second quickest and not exactly far off though so I really don’t see what Buttons on about either (though admittedly he was a bit down).

      For those who want a look but can’t be bothered to look it up (it may be in the f1fanatic charts I haven’t checked) they can be found here:

  8. That’s interesting to hear from Button because it seemed that Mclaren were strong in the final sector in Barcelona. Hamilton set the second quickest time in the final sector in qualifying so you would assume that would indicate that Mclaren have decent package for Monaco. Button set the 8th fastest time in the final sector in quali so maybe its more he doesnt feel comfortable in the Mclaren through slower corners, but that doesn’t seem like what he was getting at. Will be interesting to see how the Mclaren boys get on.

    On a slightly separate note, the fastest driver in the final sector at Barcelona? Maldonado.

    Monaco is always a GP you look forward to, but I really really can’t wait for this years race

  9. Not stating anything we didn’t already know really. Fast corners where RBR dominated last year are where the MP4-27 excels. Wasn’t too good on traction in Spain and Mclaren haven’t had a great car at Monaco since I don’t know when. If they are not bringing a version of the MP4-27 specifically for Monaco they could easily be fighting for anything from 3rd – 13th IMO.

    1. Although Hamilton and Button are more than capable of making the difference on a track that rewards precision and consistency. They won or done well before in a less than perfect car.

    2. Mclaren haven’t had a great car at Monaco since I don’t know when.

      How many times has McLaren won the Monaco GP again?

      1. How is that relevant, how many times have they won in under the recent regulations, when did the last win it.

        BTW 15 times the last in 2007 and 2008 before the regulations changed big time.

    3. Yea the RBR of ’10 and ’11 dominated in fast corners like you stated but it also won both the Monaco GP’s of those two years…

      1. Yeah but is also was a good allrounder and had a short wheelbase and good traction not something you can say about Mclaren, although last years car did have decent traction.

    4. Mclaren haven’t had a great car at Monaco since I don’t know when.

      Since last year when one was on the front row and podium, and the other one squandered his car in both qualifying and the race.

      1. Not a great car but great drivers that make the difference. ;-)

        Anyway argue with Button, I agree with him. Seriously though it doesn’t play to Mclaren strengths this year (or last year for that matter)….. it will be a 1 – 2 then in 2012

  10. Should be interesting at Monaco, as once again there are several teams with a chance of success and a big result, and a few more who won’t be that far behind the 8-ball such as McLaren.

    And all that’s before we take into account the annual Monaco madness which can rip up the form book like nothing else. Case in point, Panis winning in 1996 from 14th. It’s happened before and it will happen again.

  11. Is this a pre excuse , excuse?
    I can’t help but think Button is being pampered all the time.
    When he finishes ahead of Hamilton, he is better than Hamilton, when he finishes behind, he couldn’t find grip. I don’t believe grip is in the garage and the engineers are not adding enough of it. Grip is on the racing line and every driver is making do with what they’ve got without complaining.

  12. I think Button knows more about his car’s strengths and weaknesses than any of us do, somehow. He could be very surprised however, after all, the only other street circuit of this year so far was where he won.

    And what’s this with everyone complaining about Button complaining when he doesn’t finish in a higher position? If a driver has an off-weekend, it’s often because they can’t find the sweet spot or the balance, after all…

  13. While I would associate RBR’s usual downforce philosophy with a track like Monaco, it really is anyone’s track on the day. All it takes is a mess up in qualifying and the pole sitter has the race to lose. That’s why I see Button not doing well, just because he’s not spectacular in qualifying, not because of the car.

  14. This could be a bluff. We’ll find out when the chequered flag falls.

  15. We could argue that Alonso’s car didn’t have any sweet spot, yet he was able to tame it these past 5 races. The great drivers are those who can compensate for the flaws in their cars and augment the capabilities.
    If you can only operate in a narrow window, then you are ordinary.

    1. He cant be ordinary. He’s British.

  16. Button complains to much, he needs to shut up race, in Barcelona Button was annihalated by Hamilton, you can’t relay on Button, everything has to be perfect, I hope the team does not messes up Hamilton’s race in Monaco

  17. Reverse psycology. Even he will not know until Thursday. Drivers do this all the time. Last race Hamilton said Button was odds on for pole.

    Balance is the biggest single element for a driver as it’s what gives them confidence. Teams sometimes take downforce from one end of the car for balance. If this is an issue fare play to say it and pressure the team to give extra help. Alonso is clever with his public statements to get the team to focus as well. Hamilton is having a stormer though just like 2007. His issue wasn’t balance it was something to do with some kind of bubble. Maybe Button can achieve better balance if Mclaren have this bubble as part of their latest upgrades.

    1. William Brierty
      21st May 2012, 10:50

      Excellent point mate, Jenson does this quite a lot. If he quits whinging and at least has a peek at Hamilton’s Monaco notes, we could see a Lewis lead McLaren 1-2 on Sunday.

  18. As beautiful as the 2010 and 2011 McLimousines were, they just didn’t seem right for Monaco. The suspension was just too stiff (in order to make the aero work) and as a result they struggled with the bumps of the street surface. I was slightly surprised to see JB come away with ‘the MP4-27 won’t be suited to Monaco’ since the car has a lot of downforce, and it doesn’t seem to be as stiffly set up as previous years.

    Hopefully he’s just trying to stop the media from hyping up their chances, and that they will really be ok!

    1. William Brierty
      21st May 2012, 10:54

      So you’re are saying that the MP4-26 that was fastest in Q1 and Q2, would have been on pole if not for crap McLaren stategy and would have won if there wasn’t a red flag last year, was not suited to Monaco?

  19. I have mentioned earlier as well that Jenson Button cannot control a “drunk” car. He has a very small window of operation and just like Trulli he is very sensitive to changes in the car.

    All said and done, I never find Alonso or Hamilton complaining about this stuff the way Button goes about it. Probably this is not the right place to bring it up but in 2011, the reason Button was comprehensively beating Hamilton was because Hamilton was suffering troubles which weren’t related to the car.

    This season, if I be honest, even after winning the opening round, I haven’t considered Jenson to be a championship challenger. This season, Lewis is back to where he belongs and unfortunately Jenson will get beaten more often than not in this season IF and only IF Lewis maintains his approach (you never know with Lewis, do you?). Lewis is in a fantastic form, I haven’t seen him making a mistake this season whereas JB has and I really think that JB will find hard to match his team mate in most races.

    1. William Brierty
      21st May 2012, 11:05

      The only men standing between Lewis and the 2012 WDC is Adrian Newey and Pat Fry. If Adrian can find some more of the 2011 RBR speed then of course Vettel will be champion, and Alonso in a competitive car is nigh on unbeatable. Saying that, 2008 proves that Lewis is more than capable of being champion in the second fastest car. In fact apart from mid-2007 and Aus this year, I don’t think Lewis has ever had the fastest car.

  20. I could genuinely see Lotus overtaking Mclaren in the constructors…I’m gambling on Sauber and Red Bull being strong in Monacco

  21. I suspect its due to how stiff the front end of this car is, wont be able to ride the bumps as well as say the Ferrari, which looks pretty supple.

  22. @Neel Jani.
    Button only scored more points than Hamilton last year. He didn’t beat him.
    Hamilton’s issues last year had nothing to do with performance, but with accidents.
    Hamilton was probably a bit impatient sometimes, but that was usually because the team had got him running out of place, either by messing up his qualifying or not pitting him at the right time while he was ahead.
    Withmarsh was giving Button the best window to pit irrespective of if he was in 2nd or 12th position. As a result where Hamilton could have challenged for wins, he was falling back as he wasn’t allowed to use the undercut to challenge for wins.
    The same trend continued into this season, Button was being given the best pit stop window, even to the point of allowing Hamilton’s tyres to drop off in Aus.
    The fact they were on 2 different strategies in Spain was what allowed Hamilton to do his own race, possiby also the fact that Withmarsh and Crew had deliberately messed up a fine qualifying, and was guilt ridden.
    Withmarsh has gone from being a team boss to a deranged fan who promotes his idol irrespective of any consequence to the well being of his team.

    1. If Button didn’t beat Hamilton, Hamilton beat himself.

      1. In 2011 that is, in 2012 Hamilton’s got Button under control.

  23. More like Button not well suited to Monaco…

  24. After reading so many comments about JB’s phenominal driving last year I was under the illusion that this 2012 Mclaren under the driver supervision of (JB) would see a significant gap between JB & LH- i feel LH has decided he will drive the car is own way, and keep is own council – MW comment about LH deserves to win Monaco -he should have won Barcelona … i feel there is brinkmanship being play between LH team & all of a sudden I love my other driver LH by MW.

    I hope Mclaren doesn’t implode, I know we have a great team- car – drivers-engineers, ok the occasional wheel nut guy from Kwik Fit. Stick together.
    I am tired and bored of eating Ferria & RB – humble pie.

  25. Windowlicker
    19th May 2012, 15:45

    Jb is always winging , Lewis just drives the wheels off the car weather car is set up well or not and doesn’t really complain . I can see Lewis’s luck change at Monaco with a win and then go on a run cuz Canada is after that and he’s typically very good there ! But it all depends on mclaren who I am losing respect for at the mo , to many mistakes to many excuses !!

  26. William Brierty
    21st May 2012, 10:46

    I’m sorry Jenson, but every single person who really ought to know looked at Lewis’ Spanish lap and confirmed that the next two races are going to be rather dull – utter Hamilton domination is forecast between now and Valencia. Probable good form from Lewis has a habit of triggering a rather pesimistic attitude from Button – remember the later half of 2010? Lewis got everything from what was the third fastest car on track while Button moaned instead of simply getting on with it. I don’t think I am going to have the will to live after another whingy season from Button.

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