Button: 100 laps felt like 1,000 to McLaren on Friday

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After a troublesome F1 winter testing period, Jenson Button stated that the 100 laps that he completed on Friday in Barcelona felt like 1,000 to McLaren as it continues to learn about its new car.

The British team reunited with engine supplier Honda for the 2015 season, but has encountered a number of teething problems and issues with the power unit throughout winter testing.

However, McLaren appeared to make a breakthrough on Friday as Button completed 100 laps and posted a respectable lap time, marking what was by far the team’s best day of winter testing so far.

Although Button did encounter an electrical issue that forced him to stop out on track on his 101st lap, the Briton was delighted with the running and progress being made at McLaren.

“For most teams, 100 laps isn’t really anything, but for us it’s like 1,000 laps because there’s so much for us still to learn about this package,” Button explained.

“Reliability has been great today, a really, really big step forward and big effort by everyone which is great to see.

“It’s amazing what you get done when you have a reliable car. All of the tests that you can do, the comparisons, the aero work that you can’t do because the car stop because the car stops halfway through, we were able to do today. All the engineers and aerodynamicists are getting their teeth into what they’ve done today which is good.”

Button finished the day fifth in the final classification with a fastest lap time of 1:25.590. However, the Briton believes McLaren can build on this over the next two days of testing in Barcelona.

“Looking at the timing screens, we’re nowhere near quick enough,” Button said. “There’s a lot of progress that has been made today that we can improve on for the next couple of days.

“Where do I think we are? I think we’ve made good progress but there’s still a long way to go. There’s a lot work with in terms of the way the car feels, but I’ve not really done a massive amount of setup work even today.

“There’s still a lot of work needed to really hone the car to the way that I drive. That’s why I need a good day on Sunday. The feeling is reasonably good, but a work in progress definitely. We’re definitely not where we want to be.”

Kevin Magnussen has taken over driving duties for McLaren on Saturday, replacing Fernando Alonso following the Spaniard’s accident last Sunday.

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing

Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.