Jenson Button is unsure how the F1 field is shaping up ahead the first race of the season in three weeks’ time, saying that he has little idea of where McLaren lies in the pecking order.
The British team has endured a difficult pre-season due teething problems with the new Honda-powered MP4-30 car. A recurrence of Thursday’s issue limited Button to just 24 laps on Saturday in Barcelona, giving the Briton plenty of time to see what the other teams are doing.
“I’ve had time to look at the screens, but I haven’t got a clue what’s going on in terms of who’s quick and who isn’t,” Button said. “Really difficult to read. I think you can expect the Mercedes to be the quickest, looking at the long runs.
“I think Ferrari is pretty strong but then I really don’t know where Williams is, really difficult to read. Sauber looks reasonably good which is good for them, very happy for them at the moment. Red Bull, they look pretty good.
“But it’s tricky. You put the soft tire on some people and it gains them 1.5 seconds; some people it’s three to four tenths. It’s all very random at the moment.”
Button believes that this sets the scene for a closely-fought first race of the year in Australia on March 15, contrasting the dominance of Mercedes in 2014.
“I think it makes it great for the first race and really makes it exciting,” Button said. “You could read last year, you could see the Mercedes [first] then the Williams was second quickest, then probably us third quickest in winter testing.
“Whereas this year, I haven’t got a clue which is great. I think it’ll be a mixed-up field at the first race.”
McLaren’s test came to an early end in Barcelona as an accident for Fernando Alonso cut short the team’s running. The Spaniard was airlifted to a local hospital for a check-up, but was confirmed to be “uninjured and fine” by the team on Sunday afternoon.