Button says McLaren won’t win a race with current car


Jenson Button says McLaren will not win a race with the MP4-28 in its current form.

“The way the car is at the moment, this package that is sat in the garage right now is not going to win a race,” he said after the Australian Grand Prix.

McLaren endured a miserable start to the season in Melbourne, with Button lining up 10th on the grid and team mate Sergio Perez 15th. They finished the race 9th and 11th respectively.

The MP4-28 suffered chiefly from poor ride over the bumpy Albert Park track. But it also lacked grip, understeered and gave poor consistency.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh described Friday practice with the car as “one of the hardest days I can recall”.

McLaren find themselves in a similar situation to that which Ferrari had at the beginning of last season. The F2012 was not on the pace of the front-runners during the first four races.

However Fernando Alonso was able to score an impressive win in Malaysia, scene of the next race, taking advantage of wet weather conditions.

During wet conditions in qualifying in Australia Button showed the team have the potential to spring a similar surprise. He was fourth in the rain-affected Q2 session, but dropped back when the track dried out later on.

Until McLaren make some progress with their car, wet weather may be their best chance of achieving a result.

“We need to bring updates and move this car forward,” he added. “That is the only way we will see good results and wins. We have been in bad positions before and come back strong. It is just a pity that we have lost out so much at the start of the year.”

Position of F1 start lights altered to compensate for safety halo

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The position of start lights will be altered on Formula One tracks this season, in a bid to ensure the drivers’ line of vision is not impeded by the controversial halo protection device.

The halo is a titanium structure introduced this year in a bid to ramp up driver safety, forming a ring around the cockpit top. It is designed to protect the drivers’ head from loose debris and offer better safety during eventual collisions.

Although drivers largely understand the need for it, very few like it. They are worried it impedes visibility, it looks ugly and also that fans will no longer be able to identify a driver properly from his race helmet. Drivers also take longer to climb in and out of their cars.

Formula One’s governing body has addressed concerns and asked every circuit “to make the lights at a standard height above the track,” FIA race director Charlie Whiting said.

“Pole position seems to be the worst case scenario with the halo,” Whiting added at the season-opening Australian GP. “Maybe the driver can’t quite see the lights, or see only half of them, and he might have to move his head too much.”

The new start lights were positioned lower for Friday’s first two practice sessions at Albert Park. Drivers were also allowed the rare chance to rehearse grid starts at the end of both sessions.

“We haven’t normally allowed practice starts on the grid here because it’s quite a tight timetable,” Whiting said. “What I thought would be a good idea was to give the driver sight of those lights, rather than for the first time on Sunday evening.”

A repeat set of lights has been moved from its usual position halfway up the grid to a more convenient position to the left.

“Those repeat lights were normally halfway up the grid, and they were fitted round about 2009, when the rear wings became higher on the cars,” Whiting said. “But now the wings have been lowered, there’s no need for those halfway up the grid.”