The McLaren Mercedes duo of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen say they are looking forward to this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, with the Englishman describing it as his ‘favourite’ part of the season.
After four overseas races the paddock returns to Europe and the Circuit de Catalunya for round five of the championship, with McLaren currently sitting fifth in the championship after a disappointing run of results following their double podium finish in Australia.
“Formula 1’s springtime return to Europe is always one of my favourite times of the year,” said Button. “The paddock is filled with familiar faces, the travel shortens, and the team motorhomes – where we’ll live and work for much of the next five months – return to the scene. It always signals a bit of a fresh start to the season, and it’ll be an important one for us.
“The Circuit de Catalunya is a demanding racetrack for any car – its combination of long, sweeping corners places the emphasis on aerodynamic performance, which is an area where we’re lacking at the moment. It’s always been a place where a competitive car will shine and a less-competitive one will struggle.
“For us, it’s not simply about bringing new parts to the circuit: it’s about understanding and unlocking the car’s secrets, and using that understanding to take bigger steps with performance. We’re still at the early stages with our car, and, for us, it’s less about the components that we fit to it, and more about the bigger picture – finding a useful direction, gaining trust in our measurements and pushing ahead.”
On the other side of the garage in the #20 MP4-29, Danish rookie Magnussen is raring to race around the track for the first time in an F1 car.
“As a team, we’ve had a difficult couple of races, so I think we all head to Spain hopeful of better fortunes,” said the 21-year-old. “I think the problems we encountered in China have definitely given us the data and the impetus we need to make some changes, so I’m keen to get back in the car on Friday and see if we’ve made a step forward.
“The Circuit de Catalunya is a great track, and a place I really enjoy – I won both races in the World Series there last October – and I’m looking forward to driving a Formula 1 car for the first time.
“I also think the post-race test will be useful – Barcelona is one of the most critical circuits on the calendar for aerodynamics, so we couldn’t ask for a better venue at which to evaluate and refine our car.”
Meanwhile, McLaren’s Racing Director Eric Boullier is looking forward to moving on from a difficult few races, saying: “For us, the weekend will be about learning, and hopefully moving on from our disappointing performance in China last month. The root of our under-performance has been comprehensively analysed; we know the areas where our package falls short, and we’ve taken steps – both short- and long-term – to address those. While not all of those will be in evidence in Barcelona this weekend, they mark the start of a fresh push and spirit within the whole organisation.
“One thing we can be sure of is that Jenson and Kevin will both be pushing to the limit. In China, it was difficult to watch two hard-pressing drives go unrewarded, but both drivers performed fantastically in Shanghai, and only lost out on points due to the inefficiency of our car.
“The McLaren Technology Centre has been bustling with intense focus and activity since our return from China, and I’m hopeful that we are on the right track to steadily start pushing ourselves back towards the front.”
Since the Spanish Grand Prix first raced in Barcelona in 1991, McLaren have achieved four victories, with their most recent coming in 2005 at the hands of Kimi Räikkönen.
This years race meanwhile starts at 1300 UK, and is available to watch live on both the BBC and Sky Sports.