Button: A matter of time until McLaren bounces back

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Jenson Button believes that it is just a matter of time until McLaren returns to the front of the field in Formula 1 despite the team’s struggle in 2014.

After a disastrous 2013 campaign that was the McLaren’s worst in thirty years, 2014 has not gone much better with the team lying sixth in the constructors’ championship as the lowest ranked Mercedes-powered outfit. However, Button is pleased with the progress being made, and made his feelings clear on British radio station TalkSport.

“It’s been a tough year to be fair, very tough year,” the Briton explained. “We’re not where we’re used to being near the front. McLaren is used to fighting at the front with the other top teams, but this year hasn’t been the case, but we are getting stronger, and the British Grand Prix showed that.

“We’ve got the best engine, we’ve got a Mercedes engine so we don’t have that excuse. We just haven’t built a good enough car to win races this year. We’re working hard, there’s been a lot of improvements this year already, personnel changes and what have you, adding to the strong team we already have, so we will win races, it is a matter of time.

“It is very frustrating because when you’ve won races before and a world championship nothing else is good enough, but we’re on the right track and that’s the important thing.”

When asked to predict who would win the drivers’ championship, Button was reluctant to make a firm choice between Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, but said that his compatriot could win out if he is mentally stable.

“It’s a tricky one, people say Lewis is quicker but Nico is more intelligent, but I don’t know,” Button said. “I know how quick Lewis is, and if his head is in the right place, he will be unbeatable.”

Button finished an excellent fourth at the British Grand Prix, matching his best ever finish at Silverstone. He will head to next weekend’s German Grand Prix with his tail up, but there is still a long road ahead for McLaren.

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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