JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, Spain (AFP) – Britain’s 2009 Formula One world champion Jenson Button has admitted he has no idea what to expect from the new McLaren-Honda MP4-30 this season after a difficult start to the campaign at the first pre-season test in Jerez.
McLaren has joined forces with the Japanese manufacturer once more after a 22-year absence, but the incorporation of a new power unit has proved troublesome as Button and teammate Fernando Alonso logged just six laps each on the opening two days of testing.
“In terms of understanding our performance we’re still at zero, we don’t know where we are,” said the 35-year-old Button.
“You come into the first test thinking you will have issues and try to solve them. That’s what testing is all about.
“We are not going to be setting the world alight with lap times or laps on the circuit. Hopefully we’ll get to the first race and we’ll be competitive, but we don’t know where we stand right now.”
McLaren’s slow start on the track comes after a difficult winter for Button as he had to wait until December to find out if he would have a seat for a 15th consecutive season in F1, eventually edging out his teammate from last season Kevin Magnussen for the right to partner Alonso.
Button managed just the one podium in a disappointing 2014, but believes there is more reason to be optimistic this year thanks to the partnership with Honda, despite the current teething problems.
“There is no reason for my spirits not to be high. I’m with a great team, a great partnership and there is a lot to look forward to,” he said.
“I’m not going to give you figures or positions that we’ll finish in certain races or the championship because none of us know.
“I think the whole team have done a great job in getting the car here for the first test and if you look at the car in lots of areas it is a step forward from last year’s car.” Alonso’s return to McLaren came as a surprise to many after the Spaniard’s ill-fated season with the Woking-based team back in 2007.
The two-time world champion endured a frosty battle for supremacy within the team with then rookie teammate Lewis Hamilton, whilst Alonso also played a role in the spying scandal that saw McLaren thrown out of the constructors’ championship and fined $100 million.
However, Button believes the veteran pairing can work together in harmony in order to make McLaren a contender once more.