Following a turbulent start to the season, McLaren have steadily been developing the MP4-28. Ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix the team are looking to make further progress, yet Jenson Button has downplayed his teams chances of a podium this weekend, despite the circuit being a happy hunting ground for McLaren in past seasons.
The MP4-28 has struggled with a fundamental balance flaw ever since Perez and Button first unveiled it back in February. Major update packages have since then corrected some of the aero issues, including a new front wing in Monaco. The wing featured a steeper third element, which they hoped would channel a greater amount of air towards the guide veins on the sidepod as oppose to the reference plane on the floor of the car, which had been causing instability under braking.These updates and tweaks have seen McLaren stealthily climb up the pecking order. A sign of the progress is the current headlines. It is the McLaren drivers which are filling the back pages as oppose to the car they are driving. The Canadian Grand Prix is likely to showcase the strengths of the MP4-28 due to the circuits emphasis on mechanical grip. However, Jenson Button has downplayed the teams chances this weekend – Perhaps a deliberate ploy to detract anticipation for success which is building faster than the development of the car.
“Last year I had a terrible race,” said Button. “We know the reasons for it, which is good because we have learned from that and we won’t make the same mistakes again. Overall, Canada has been a pretty good circuit for McLaren. We’ve won there the last three races, but this time around we’re not going to set the world alight simply because we are going to Canada. But I really do feel the changes we made in Monaco helped us, and I really do hope that carries over to Canada, and I think it will. That’s good because we’ve some good improvements. We’re still not great, but we’re getting there.”
Undoubtedly, McLaren are prevailing in terms of the development race. The team are taking small steps, yet are evidently gaining ground on their rivals. This is hardly surprising, as in season development is a part of McLaren DNA. 2009 is a prime example of how the team managed to take a disappointing package and convert it into a race winning formula. Lewis Hamilton’s win in Abu Dhabi was far from predictable considering McLaren’s uncharacteristically slow start to the season.
Sporting Director Sam Micheal, highlighted the progression which has been a result of the engineers discovering the fundamental issues and finding ways to eradicate them. He evaluated, “Montreal is a track that’s been quite good for McLaren over the years and we’ve got some more things to investigate and try. We’re developing the car, the car is getting better – not as fast as what we’d hope and not returning to form as quickly as we’d like – but the performance is still going in the right direction.”
Although McLaren fans have experienced enough disappointment so far this season, the teams supposed ‘pace’ in Monaco is not a fair representation of their current standing. The race was run at a pace which allowed them to maintain a respectable distance to the leaders. However, it cannot be denied that the team are making substantial progress. Unfortunately for Button, his hunt for a second World Championship will now almost certainly roll into 2014. Regardless, the team will be devastated if podiums and victories do not come their way towards the end of the season.