Jenson Button finished an encouraging seventh for McLaren-Honda in Friday’s free practice for the Spanish Grand Prix but warned the team needs to work harder than ever to make up lost ground.
After four races without scoring a point, McLaren are enduring their worst start to a season.
Button, the 2009 champion, was 1.6 seconds off the pace set by front-running double champion, fellow-Briton and former team-mate Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.
After testing a raft of upgraded parts for his car, Button said the team needed to improve “in every area” of both chassis and engine if it was to compete for a place in the top ten.
“Yes, it is the closest we have been all year,” said Button.
“And, yes, it is always nice seeing the timing sheets, but it is only practice.
“There is a lot of work for us to do in every area to optimise what we have.
“It has been a tough day for everyone. In first practice, the prime tyre pace was good, but it is tough in terms of balance on a lap.
“In second practice, we really struggled on the prime tyre, but the option was a little better. Overall, it has been a good day, but we have lots to do to figure out why we can’t do certain things.”
Team-mate Fernando Alonso wound up 11th. – Agence France-Presse