Jenson Button heads into the Malaysian Grand Prix this weekend with his McLaren-Honda team hoping to maximise their track time and take more positives away from the circuit after a difficult pre-season and season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Button looked back at Australia, and despite being the only driver who finished the race not to score points, he was happy that the extended running allowed the team to gather some all-important data to analyse, which will help them improve in the long run.
“Melbourne was certainly a challenging weekend for us, but there were positives to take from it,” reflected Button. “A lot of our performance was largely unknown coming into the weekend given the limited running we had over winter testing.
“Despite our finishing position, getting to the chequered flag has meant that we’re now armed with much more data about our package and we can learn a huge amount from it.
“Of course, nobody can be happy with finishing at the back of the pack, and we know there is a lot to do to bridge the gap to the rest of the field. However, the work going on within McLaren-Honda both in Woking and Sakura is relentless; the whole team is working tirelessly to keep developing our package to ensure we keep making steady progress.”
Looking ahead to Malaysia, Button knows the team will still be learning more about their MP4/30, especially in the hot and humid conditions expected at Sepang this weekend.
“Malaysia will be another tricky step in the learning process for us,” continued Button. “It’s often an unpredictable race and the extreme temperatures will test our car and tyres to limits that they haven’t been exposed to yet in testing.
“With the possibility of rain added to the mix, it will be interesting to see how our car behaves in changeable conditions. Our aim is to maximise our mileage throughout the whole weekend. “
Button won the event on his way to the 2009 World Drivers’ Championship with Brawn GP, and admits the track is amongst his favourites on the calendar. He also believes that this race is one of the biggest tests a driver faces all season when it comes to fitness, with the high temperatures and high humidity making it a tough Grand Prix.
“Sepang itself is a fantastic circuit – I love going there and I have memories of great battles there and of my win in 2009,” said Button. “It’s a real favourite among the drivers owing to its high-speed corners, long straights and plenty of overtaking opportunities.
“The heat is always pretty brutal, but it’s definitely a good test of a driver’s fitness and a place where our tough training regime always pays off!”