Last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix saw both McLaren drivers, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button reach Q3 and qualify in the top 10 for the first time since Abu Dhabi in 2014. With what appeared to be good pace and a promising grid position, expectations were high for the duo, but due to technical issues, Button’s race was unfortunately cut short, meaning that he could not capitalise on his strong qualifying.
Despite the McLaren Honda’s looking as though they could contest for the best midfield team at last weekend’s race, Button knows that the Hockenheimring isn’t a track that suits the car due to the lack of straight line pace: “Although Hockenheim has had two different configurations over the years, there’s a lot of history there and the fans love their racing. Our car is strong under heavy braking, but despite the long, sweeping corners and fast straights, this isn’t as much of a necessity there as in Hungary.
“We’re expecting it to be a tricky weekend as the best-placed cars are the ones with the highest straight-line speeds, but we’ll see what we can do. The MP4-31 is well balanced and has good traction out of the corners, so we might be able to make up some time around a lap.”
Despite this, Button is looking forwards to this weekend’s race, and also acknowledges the qualities of the track. “There are a couple of decent overtaking opportunities there, so you don’t just need to rely on DRS and a good slipstream on the straights, and it’s an enjoyable challenge. The asphalt is smooth which will hopefully rubber in nicely over the course of the weekend, as you need good grip to have any chance of making up ground.
“I remember the craziness of the old configuration – huge straights and fiddly chicanes, which made set-up a tricky compromise – and this layout is very different, but you can see they’ve designed it to promote close racing.”
Evidently, Button is still unhappy about his missed opportunity in Hungary, especially considering that his teammate, Alonso, finished well in seventh position. Button commented that: “Last Sunday in Hungary was a big disappointment on my side of the garage – we showed a lot of promise throughout the weekend leading up to the race, but on Sunday it seemed that everything that could go wrong, did. Still, that’s part of racing and Fernando has had his share of bad luck over the past few races, so it was good he was able to get some points and maintain a good pace.”
“I hope we can regain our form in Germany and enjoy a positive race for both cars before the summer break. After last weekend, the main thing we need to focus on is reliability. If we have that, it at least puts us in a position to see where we are on track and be in the hunt for points. Hopefully the weekend will throw up a surprise or two, and we can both have a smooth weekend.”