With Sergio Perez and Jenson Button both having shown encouraging signs of progress in India and Abu Dhabi the mindset within McLaren has clearly changed with the positive signs offering encouragement to senior figures within the team.
In India Sergio Perez finished fifth and in Abu Dhabi both drivers have been able to drive with confidence for much of the weekend. In qualifying Perez shone in Q2, setting the fifth fastest time, and while Button will have to settle for 12th on the grid he has looked much happier in the car this weekend. After qualifying the Englishman admitted to being unable to understand why the car suddenly was not working as well as in the earlier session.
Button was not sure whether the change in track conditions, bright sun to dusk bringing about a lower track temperature, had led to the problems but he took his poor qualifying performance in step and focussed on the progress made this weekend:
“For most of the weekend I’ve been very happy with our progress and the car has been a joy to drive,” said Button. “There’s progress that we’ve made over the last couple of races and the car is a lot better to work with. There’s some limitations but there always is with a car but the next three races we can still have some good results.
“The next two races [America and Brazil] are reasonably similar to India and here so there’s some good points to be taken by us for sure. A podium is a long shot but I think it’s more possible after India than I thought for most of the season. We’ve made progress and it’s positive. It will be nice to end the season on a reasonable high. Winning a race is not going to happen but to get a good consistent results I think would be good for the team.”
That Button has even mentioned a podium shows the improvement that has been made since the team shifted resources to focus on the 2014 car. In midseason, at the British Grand Prix, Martin Whitmarsh confirmed to the media that the team would scale back development on the 2013 car and focus their attention on next year’s major rule changes in a bid to gain an early march on their rivals.
Speaking in Abu Dhabi the team principal spoke about the improvements made of late and the promising signs of this weekend:
“We’ve made some progress and inevitably we’re a little bit disappointed because we went in to qualifying feeling confident,” said Whitmarsh. “Jenson was strong this morning and Checo was strong in Q2. We’ve all been around long enough to know that we’ve made some progress so we won’t be too disappointed. We showed some good long run pace yesterday. This morning we thought that we could be up there in the middle of things in Q3.”