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.

Valiant efforts from Hunter-Reay, Dixon come up just short at Road America

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Ryan Hunter-Reay and Scott Dixon drove about as hard as they possibly could during Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix, and they both drove nearly perfect races.

Hunter-Reay took advantage of Will Power’s engine issues on the start to immediately jump into second, and stalked pole sitter and leader Josef Newgarden from there, often staying within only a couple car lengths of his gearbox.

Dixon, meanwhile, had a tougher chore after qualifying a disappointing 12th. Further, he was starting in the same lane as Will Power, and when Power had engine issues when the green flag waved, Dixon was one of several drivers who was swamped in the aftermath.

Scott Dixon had to come from deep in the field on Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix. Photo: IndyCar

However, as is his style, he quietly worked his way forward, running sixth after the opening round of pit stops, and then working his way up to third after the second round of stops.

It all meant that, after Lap 30, Newgarden, Hunter-Reay, and Dixon were nose-to-tail at the front, with the latter two in position to challenge for the win.

Yet, neither was able to do so. Hunter-Reay never got close enough to try to pass Newgarden, while Dixon couldn’t do so on either Hunter-Reay or Newgarden. And, neither driver went longer in their final stint – Dixon was actually the first of that group to pit, doing so on Lap 43, with Hunter-Reay and Newgarden pitting together one lap later.

And Newgarden pulled away in the final stint, winning by over three seconds, leaving Hunter-Reay and Dixon to finish second and third.

It was a somewhat bitter pill to swallow, with Hunter-Reay noting that he felt like he had enough to challenge for a win.

“I felt like we had the pace for (Newgarden), especially in the first two stints,” he asserted. “I really felt like it was going to be a really good race between us. Whether it be first, second, third, fourth stint – I didn’t know when it was going to come.”

He added that, if he could do it over again, he would have been more aggressive and tried to pass Newgarden in the opening stint.

“In hindsight, I should have pressured him a bit more in the first stint,” Hunter-Reay lamented. “We were focused on a fuel number at the time. Unfortunately that Penske fuel number comes into play, can’t really go hard.”

Dixon, meanwhile, expressed more disappointment in the result, asserting that qualifying better would have put him in a possibly race-winning position.

“I think had we started a little further up, we could have had a good shot at trying to fight for the win today,” he expressed.

The disappointment for Dixon also stems from the knowledge that his No. 9 PNC Bank Honda had the pace to win, especially longer into a run.

“The car was pretty good on the long stint,” he asserted. “I think for us the saving grace was probably the black tire stint two. We closed a hefty gap there. We were able to save fuel early in the first stint, which enabled us to go a lap longer than everybody, had the overcut for the rest of the race.

“I think speed-wise we were right there. Had a bit of a crack at Hunter-Reay on his out lap on the last stint there, but cooked it too much going into (Turn 14), got a bit loose, lost momentum. That would have been really the only chance of passing him.”

Dixon remains in the championship lead, however, by 45 points, while Hunter-Reay moved up to second, tied with Andretti Autosport teammate Alexander Rossi.

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