2009 Formula One world champion Jenson Button is willing to play the long game with his car development in order to give himself the best chance of claiming a second title.
“When we came into this season we wanted to build a car that would be strong throughout the year, and that’s why we’ve made so many changes to the way the car looks, the reason being is that it’s a very long season and we want to be able to develop all the way through the year.”
There has been little change to the regulations for 2013 meaning that many teams are using a refined version of last season’s car. Button admitted in an interview that McLaren’s strategy may not make them quick at first, but it will pay off towards the end of the season whilst other teams struggle to innovate.
“It means they [the other teams] will be strong at the first race, but they won’t be able to develop like us through the year. That is the idea we have.”
Button will be joined at McLaren by Sergio Perez in 2013 following the departure of Lewis Hamilton to Mercedes. Despite his ex-teammate setting the timesheets ablaze in testing, Button did not pick a clear front-runner for the beginning of the season.
“We still want to be quick at the first race, we want to win from the word go. But it’s possibly going to be a tough race, not just for us, but for everyone because it seems so, so close at the moment.
“But we still go to Melbourne aiming for a victory.”
Although their pace towards the end of testing was disappointing, McLaren may have the edge on their rivals if they can develop their car throughout the season. Red Bull started 2012 very poorly, and Sebastian Vettel had won just once before the Singapore Grand Prix. However, the work at Red Bull saw him take a further four victories on his way to a third title, and McLaren will hope that a similar tactic will work for them in 2013.