Button hails “good step forward” despite P11 finish

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Jenson Button remained upbeat despite finishing as the lowest classified driver in yesterday’s Australian Grand Prix in 11th place.

McLaren’s woeful start to life with Honda power units continued in Melbourne as Kevin Magnussen failed to make the start of the race following an engine failure on his installation lap.

Running with a tuned-down engine, Button eventually finished the race in 11th place as the last classified finisher, two laps down on race winner Lewis Hamilton.

The 2009 world champion was the only driver to finish the race that did not score points, but he was pleased to have even completed all 58 laps in Australia.

“Today has been a good day,” Button said on Sunday. “We’re still a long way off, but this is a good starting point, and I enjoyed the race. I even had a good little battle with Checo [Perez].

“Today also really helps in terms of development: if we’d done three laps, we’d have learned nothing, so we’ve learned a massive amount by completing a race distance.”

Button believes that the small steps being made by McLaren can give the team momentum in the coming weeks as it continues to get to grips with the new Honda engines.

“There’s a lot of work still needed – on power, driveability, downforce and set-up – but we can make big strides,” Button said. “And, by improving one area, it tends to snowball; more and more areas start to improve, too.

“There were more positives: we’re as quick as the Force Indias in the corners, and we look similar in speed through the corners to the Red Bulls and Saubers, too.

“It’s been a tough winter – our longest run in testing was just 12 laps, so today’s 58-lap run was a good step forward – but we know we’ve got a lot of work to do. But, with all of today’s learning, there are many areas we can improve for the next race.”

Button is set to be rejoined at McLaren by Fernando Alonso for the Malaysian Grand Prix. The Spaniard was forced to miss the race in Australia following an accident during pre-season testing, but is now back in training and is widely expected to be fit to race in Sepang at the end of the month.

SuperMotocross set to introduce Leader Lights beginning with the World Championship finals


In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.

Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.

Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.

The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.

“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”

Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.

SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.

When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.

SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.