Jenson Button breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday after completing 62 problem free laps in the new McLaren, in contrast to 2011 when the car suffered from repeated reliability issues.
The 2009 champion was behind the wheel of the MP4-27 for its first day of pre-season testing, and described the experience as positive, given the issues they suffered last year.
“It does feel very different to testing last year, which is a good thing really because it’s not like we can stick on an exhaust which gives us two seconds at the first race,” he told reporters.
“I was surprised; I thought that we’d have more issues under braking because the downforce that the top teams were producing from the blown diffuser last year was staggering,” he continued. “To lose that much you would think you would struggle, and the difference between on-throttle and off-throttle you’d think would be massive but it’s not such an issue.
“I suppose you balance whatever you have; whatever grip you have you find a way of balancing it and that’s what we’ve done. I don’t feel it’s a massive issue, it’s not something that I would point out and say that’s a weakness with the car.”
Button expects a much closer start to the season with the top few teams within a couple of tenths of one another, unlike 2011 when Red Bull had a second over McLaren, whilst Ferrari were a further few tenths behind them.
“The regulations are very different now, so I think you’re going to see the cars a lot more bunched up this season, especially at the start of the year,” he explained.
“Obviously when racing gets underway and you’re always improving the car through the season then I think the field will split a little bit more, but at the start of the year I think you’re going to have a lot of cars that are within a few tenths which is great – it’s great for the sport it just makes things a little bit more complicated and difficult for us.”