Button: McLaren Honda closer, but full potential still not revealed

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It’s all a matter of perspective when it comes to results, and 12th and 13th with all 22 cars running is still better than where McLaren Honda was this time last year, Jenson Button said on Thursday.

The 2009 World Champion and teammate Fernando Alonso have shown signs of progress this year with the Chinese Grand Prix their best race to date. Alonso returned well after missing the Bahrain Grand Prix following his accident in Australia to start the year.

Button noted that compared to last year, when the McLarens were barely ahead of the Manor Marussia team, now they’re clear of four or five teams.

Understandably though, McLaren Honda isn’t in it to finish 12th and 13th, and the point Button made Thursday during the FIA Press Conference was that qualifying still needs to be better.

“[We’re] not doing a good enough job possibly,” Button admitted. “I think the last race, if you look at it – it’s very difficult for a driver, because you come home 12th and 13th and it’s not where you want to be – but if you look at it compared to last year, every car finished in China. So it’s a big step forward to last year in China.

“In terms of where I think we are, yeah, our qualifying pace has been reasonable but I still don’t think we have shown our true potential in qualifying either. We have been close to Q3.

“Yeah, it’s moving forward but you always want more, you always want more. Formula One is so competitive right now. For us I feel that having something new coming every race, aerodynamically and also with the power unit, it’s moving in the right direction, but we always want more. I think when we start scoring points on a regular basis we’ll be a lot happier, but that hasn’t happened.”

Button did say the Honda power unit is closer to the rest of the field this year.

“It’s very difficult to know what ‘nearly’ means,” he said. “I think we’re very happy with the way the deployment is this year, compared to last year. We’re a lot close to the other manufacturers, which is great.

“In terms of outright power, I don’t know. I don’t think anyone really knows, but we know there is still a lot of work to do and that’s the aim.”

Button managed to finish ninth in Sochi last year.

He and Alonso also turned in one of the funnier pre-race videos courtesy of partner Mobil 1, with a snow covered background on the green screen.  It’s available for your viewing pleasure, below.

IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
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The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:


Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change