Both McLaren drivers have insisted that they can sense progress with the McLaren-Honda, as the partnership’s trying season continued in Monza with yet another disappointing result.
In an often tense press conference after the Italian Grand Prix qualifying session in which Honda motorsport boss Yasuhisa Arai faced tough questioning about the unit’s persistent underperformance and his own future, both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso maintained that things are going in the right direction.
When Button was reminded that he has commented on previous spells at teams where he said could see no future, and if his current predicament felt similar, the Englishman said: “No…because [then] you haven’t been with a works manufacturer and there hasn’t been change. And we’ve had drastic change within this team.
“And if we look back at the beginning of the season in testing we were struggling to do two-lap runs or to get out the garage, so we have come a hell of a long way.
“Formula 1 is such a competitive sport right now and it’s so complex the power unit, and also the aerodynamics, we’re so limited in what we can do, to make a difference during the season is so so difficult.
“Can I see light [at the end of the tunnel]? Yeah, I can see where it’s going to improve. But none of us know here right now how quickly. But I know everyone’s working flat out…We’ve probably had more parts on this car, aerodynamic parts and mechanical parts, than I’ve ever had in my Formula 1 career.”
Alonso concurred: “We are in the first year of this relationship and we’re working flat out to sort some of our problems, and I feel that we’re moving in the right direction. But there are certain things that we cannot do by magic by one day to the next one, some things require time. We’ll see how long we need to be competitive.”