Mclaren Mercedes finished off a disappointing weekend at the Chinese Grand Prix with Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen finishing down in 11th and 13th.
It was a difficult weekend for Mclaren. A poor qualifying saw both drivers fail to get out of Q2 as Button started 12th and Magnussen 15th. Things unfortunately didn’t get any better on race day.
Both drivers struggled in the midfield for the duration of the race, with tyre wear being a big issue for Button in particular who pitted on lap seven after complaints of graining during his first stint. “It was pretty difficult out there,” said Button. “It felt a little bit like qualifying yesterday: we just couldn’t get the front tyres working – they just grained.”
Magnussen was able to run ten laps longer than his teammate as he started the race on the prime tyre, but also struggled with a lack of downforce which punished the front tyres. “Our car lacks downforce – that’s it’s main problem. The way it’s set up, and how it feels, has always been positive; it’s just low on grip that’s all. We need to work as hard as we can to create that missing downforce.”
Racing Director Eric Boullier also highlighted a lack of downforce as the teams main problem at the moment. “Our car isn’t competitive enough, we know that, it’s deficiencies mostly the consequence of insufficient downforce.”
“The Shanghai circuit is front-limited – in other words it punishes lack of front-end grip. The fact that we’ve been unable to get sufficient heat into our front tyres in the chilly weather conditions we’ve experienced this weekend has further compromised our performance here.”
Mclaren, like most teams who are currently struggling are looking towards Barcelona as a possible fresh start. Button however isn’t overly confident about the effect of new upgrades in Spain. “We’ve got a few upgrades for the next grand prix, in Barcelona, but they won’t be enough to close our performance gap to the fastest cars.”
Boullier however remains determined and says the team will do all it can to improve. “There’s a three-week gap between now and the Spanish Grand Prix, and we’ll work flat-out between now and then in an effort to address our car’s shortcomings. We know what we have to do, and we’ll work night and day to do it.”