The McLaren-Mercedes team arrive for their home Grand Prix at Silverstone having fallen to sixth in the Constructors’ Championship. Their Danish driver Kevin Magnussen took his best result since the opening round of the season last time out in Austria with seventh, but British team-mate Jenson Button missed out on points for the fourth time in 2014 in eleventh.
Emotions will be running high for Button as he approaches his home grand prix, especially with the #pinkforpapa campaign for his late father John Button who passed away during the winter. He has yet to finish on the podium at Silverstone, and fears this years McLaren will struggle to change that fact.
“The Santander British Grand Prix is one of Formula 1’s most important races because so much of our sport has been grown and developed using British technology, passion and determination,” said Button. “For any driver, your home grand prix is massively important – but, like Monza and Monaco, Silverstone is special for everyone.
“The fast corners of the grand prix circuit aren’t necessarily going to suit our package, but we’re bringing improvements to the car all the time, and we’re now seeing some really positive correlation between the tunnel and the track, which is encouraging for our ongoing development programme.
“Finally, and on a personal note, this race is going to be a special one for me because it was always such an important race for my dad. I’ll be wearing a special pink helmet for the race weekend, and I’m hoping people will enter into the spirit of supporting the #pinkforpapa effort to wear something pink on Sunday to honour his memory. He won’t be there this year, but he’ll always be with us in spirit – I hope he brings me some extra luck on Sunday.”
Team-mate Magnussen tested a McLaren at Silverstone in last seasons Young Driver Test so is familiar to running at the circuit after two years away in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series that do not race in the United Kingdom. Like many up and down the F1 paddock, he understands the importance of the race, and is looking forward to getting out on track.
“I tested at Silverstone last year during the Young Driver Test, so it’s a circuit that I’m already pretty familiar with,” said Magnussen. “It’s a great track, with lots of fast, sweeping turns – really enjoyable, and, with such high-commitment corners, a real challenge to wring the last few tenths from the car.
“For me, this race weekend will be a particularly important one because it’s the team’s home race – there’s an added pressure to do well in front of your home fans, and the families of many of the people who’ve worked so hard to put our cars on the grid. I know that this race won’t be best suited to our package, but I nevertheless hope we can repay some of their hard work this weekend.
“Racing at Silverstone is going to be something special for me: it’s a circuit with some of the richest history in Formula 1. It’s where the world championship started, it’s a race I grew up watching, and it’s a place where you can still feet a solid connection to the past. It’s an honour to be racing at Silverstone’s 50th grand prix this weekend – as a British team, I hope we can do something a bit special to mark the occasion.”
Racing Director Eric Boullier knows the importance of the British Grand Prix is for the McLaren team. He is hopeful the upward swing of the performance of the McLaren cars continue at Silverstone, even though he admits the high-speed corners do not currently suit the MP4-29.
“For McLaren, Britain’s oldest and most established Formula 1 team, the Santander British Grand Prix is the most significant and important event on the calendar,” said Boullier. “It’s the race that connects us to our roots within British motorsport, and it gives us the opportunity to race in front of tens of thousands of British fans – the most knowledgeable, loyal and passionate motorsport enthusiasts in the world.
“As in Austria last month, the high-speed sweeps and esses of Silverstone won’t particularly suit the MP4-29 – our car’s package doesn’t excel around fast, long corners – but there were positives to take away from that race, so I’m hopeful that we can maintain that trend this weekend.
“For Jenson, his home race will be an emotional one, and I know that he’ll be pushing for a strong result to please the fans and honour the memory of his father. Kevin, too, knows the importance of racing in front of the team’s home crowd, and is very keen for another positive result. Both drivers have performed fantastically all season, and I know they’ll be pushing as hard as ever at Silverstone this weekend.”