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.