MELBOURNE, March 13th, 2014 (F1Plus / Jacob Polychronis) Jenson Button has quashed suggestions from Red Bull’s Christian Horner that Mercedes GP can finish two laps ahead of the opposition in the Australian Grand Prix.
Speaking ahead of the 2014 season opener in Melbourne, Button brushed off Horner’s comments as an exaggeration.
“No, it’s not that I a fear that Mercedes GP will finish two laps ahead. That’s Christian obviously trying to push Renault to perform better because it’s not true.”
Although Button rejected Horner’s claims, the McLaren stalwart still acknowledges that Mercedes GP and Williams are the teams to beat in Melbourne. Nonetheless, Button believes that car upgrades and potential reliability issues will allow McLaren to remain competitive in Sunday’s race.
“I feel we need more pace but we have upgrades for the first race which we did have but didn’t get to run them in the test. –
Hopefully it will be a good chunk forward but you look at the times of the Williams and Mercedes and they are going to be hard to beat – if reliability wasn’t an issue. I still think they can be challenged.”
“I think on the long runs the Mercedes and Williams are about 2 seconds quicker than us per lap, but here [in Melbourne] it could be very different.”
A new turbo-charged challenge
A determining factor for success this year will be how well drivers adapt to the driving requirements of the sport’s new 1.6L turbo-charged engines. Button described how powerful the new engines are, despite “not sounding as good.”
“It’s less forgiving because you have so much torque. With that much torque going through Formula One tyres, if you do spin them up you’ve over-heated them. You have to be so careful the whole time and you’re never sure how much power to use.”
When asked what represents a realistic and successful weekend, Button’s expectations were restricted.
“I think getting to the end will be a good start. But as a team and as a driver you want to do the best you can and you want to win races but I’m not sure if we will be able to do that this race.”
McLaren will begin attempting to remedy last year’s disappointment when the season starts on the weekend, after failing to finish on the podium once last year.