The McLaren-Honda team ended the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park point-less but despite Kevin Magnussen being unable to start the race against all expectations after a dreadful pre-season testing programme, Jenson Button was able to complete the race distance.
Despite finishing two laps behind the race winner and outside the points, Button was positive after completing his first race distance with the MP4/30. The Briton knows the team still have a long way to go to be competitive, but feels getting to the chequered flag was a step in the right direction.
“Today has been a good day,” said Button. “We’re still a long way off, but this is a good starting point – and I enjoyed the race. I even had a good little battle with Checo [Sergio Perez].
“Today also really helps in terms of development: if we’d done three laps, we’d have learned nothing, so we’ve learned a massive amount by completing a race distance.
“It was also a good opportunity for me to get used to the car and to play around with it, making adjustments in the cockpit. There’s a lot of work still needed – on power, driveability, downforce and set-up – but we can make big strides. And, by improving one area, it tends to snowball; more and more areas start to improve, too.
“There were more positives: we’re as quick as the Force India’s in the corners, and we look similar in speed through the corners to the Red Bulls and Sauber’s, too.”
Button was delighted to smash the longest run the team had managed during the race, but knows the distance covered in the race will provide plenty of data for the team to pour through to try and bring improvements along to the MP4/30.
“It’s been a tough winter – our longest run in testing was just 12 laps, so today’s 58-lap run was a good step forward – but we know we’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Button. “But, with all of today’s learning, there are many areas we can improve for the next race.”
Magnussen was left frustrated after seeing his race end before he had even reached the dummy grid, with plumes of smoke being seen pouring from the back of his Honda-powered machine. Despite this, he was happy to have been participating in the race weekend with McLaren after taking the seat vacated by Fernando Alonso.
“Today was frustrating for me – I really wanted to race the car – but it’s been good to get out here this weekend,” revealed Magnussen. “I’ve really enjoyed it.
“Even though I couldn’t make the start, the team can learn something from my car’s problem. And we can take positives from Jenson finishing the race, too – we came here to learn, and that’s what we did. Finishing is a small victory for the team – I don’t think we expected to be able to do that.
“Now we can get a car to the finish line, we can start to accelerate our learning. We got 56 valuable laps under our belts today, and that’s a great way for McLaren and Honda to start our journey together.”