McLaren’s Jenson Button on Sunday said just finishing the Australian Grand Prix was a triumph of sorts as he remained upbeat despite coming in 11th and last.
The three-time race winner wound up just outside the points for McLaren, but it was a starting point after a torrid time wrestling with an unresponsive car.
Button was the only McLaren runner after Kevin Magnussen, standing in for Fernando Alonso, went out with a billowing exhaust on the reconnaissance lap.
Button put a positive slant on McLaren’s underwhelming first race of the year, which followed a woeful pre-season including Alonso’s crash and concussion in Barcelona.
“Today has been a good day. We’re still a long way off, but this is a good starting point -– and I enjoyed the race,” he said.
“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.”
It is a big come-down for a proud team that has won 182 races, 12 drivers’ championships and eight constructors’ titles, to find itself among the F1strugglers this season.
“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,” Button said.
“But we know we’ve got a lot of work to do. But, with all of today’s learning, there are many areas we can improve for the next race in Malaysia.” – Agence France-Presse