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McLaren play down hopes of Spanish revival

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Jenson Button

Jenson Button

Jenson Button

McLaren's hopes of a revival at this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix are being tempered by a cautious note coming out of the team.

It had been hoped the recent break ahead of the start of the European section of the Formula One campaign would herald a u-turn in form.

McLaren's decision to completely remodel their car for this season, rather than build on their race-winning performances at the end of last year, has so far badly backfired.

To date, Jenson Button and team-mate Sergio Perez have amassed just 13 and 10 points respectively from the opening four grands prix to leave McLaren languishing in sixth in the constructors' championship.

But in terms of Sunday's race at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya being a breakthrough, despite an expected welter of updates on the car, it appears unlikely to be the case.

Button said: "There's been a lot of talk about the importance of the upgrades, but as with every upgrade they're simply part of the series of continuous improvement that are made across the season.

"As always there'll be elements of it that work, elements that work in a different way to what we'd anticipated, and elements that don't work, or perhaps require further work.

"That's life in modern Formula One, so I'm pragmatic about what we'll discover, although I'm hopeful it'll move us a step closer towards the destination."

As for team principal Martin Whitmarsh, his natural exuberance was lacking as he simply said: "We'll be hoping for a productive weekend that will allow us to gather useful data for the races ahead."

Explaining the issues that have plagued the cars and his engineers' attempts to solve them, Whitmarsh added: "Not enough downforce, too much drag, normal things.

"The car would be a lot better with 25 to 35 more points of downforce, and the drivers would be a lot happier with the car.

"That's what we need, and when we talk about 25 to 35 more points of downforce, it's more complex than that.

"It's an oversimplication because there is not just downforce, but ride height, pitch, roll, exhaust blowing - a matrix you have to cover.

"I'm sure if we raise the performance bar there are other limitations we can focus on, but at the moment we need more downforce, especially at low speed.

"The drivers are really struggling for traction in the low-speed corners."

Naturally, given McLaren's resources, no stone is being left unturned in the team's bid to resolve their woes and get back on track before they lose touch completely in both championships.

Managing director Jonathan Neale, however, is also being circumspect as he remarked: "We've been working very hard on the car and our rate of understanding and effort has been very high.

"Of course, the first European race will be an area where everybody else is bringing upgrades as well, and our progress will be measured against our competitors.

"So I think what we'll do is we'll be cautious and say that a measure of our progress will be revealed on Saturday afternoon and Sunday.

"But I'm pleased with the way the team is working. I think we've done a lot of very diligent work.

"We've had a straight line (aero) test as well to be able to validate some of the information we have, but we'll be cautious at this stage until we see where we're at.

"Some things will work, some things won't, and we've a lot more work to do on Fridays as well.

"So I don't see us being able to just run the car without a huge degree of upgrades at most Fridays between now and the summer. We'll continue to work very hard at this."

PA Media