McLaren finishes as bottom Mercedes team in China

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Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen will have been pleased to have finally seen the checkered flag in yesterday’s Chinese Grand Prix after a disastrous weekend that saw the McLaren team leave Shanghai empty handed.

After a terrible 2013 campaign, the team had appeared to have made a big step forwards as both of its drivers finished on the podium at the Australian Grand Prix. However, since that impressive 33 point haul, Button and Magnussen have mustered just 10 points and failed to score any in the past two grands prix. On Sunday in China, Button came home in 11th place, with the rookie Magnussen two places further back.

“It was pretty difficult out there,” Button said. “It felt a little bit like qualifying yesterday, we just couldn’t get the front tyres working – they just grained.

“We’ve got a few upgrades for the next grand prix, in Barcelona, but they won’t be enough to close our performance gap to the fastest cars.”

Magnussen also had little to say about the race: “It felt like a long race, because there wasn’t much I could do out there. Our car lacks downforce – that’s its main problem. The way it’s set up, and how it feels, has always been positive; it’s just low on grip, that’s all. So, clearly, we need to work as hard as we can to create that missing downforce.”

McLaren had promised to make a big gain in Malaysia three weeks ago, with Ron Dennis predicting that the team would have cut the gap to Mercedes at the front by half a second. Instead, the British squad in fact finished as the bottom Mercedes-powered team in China behind the works team, Williams and Force India.

Button and Magnussen will be keen on responding at the Spanish Grand Prix next month, where the team should debut its first major upgrade package for the MP4-29 that could remedy some of its problems.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”