McLaren renew hopes for a better performance in China

During the three-week break McLaren have been fully engaged in further developing and understanding of the MP4-28.

The Shanghai International Circuit was built on marshland to the north west of Shanghai in 2004. The scale of the project, with its two nine-storey pit buildings, 29,000-seat main grandstand and ornate paddock pavilions, was bigger than anything previously seen in Formula 1; it was what circuit designer Hermann Tilke described as “a race circuit for the new millennium”.

Jenson Button, McLaren with Sergio Perez, McLaren and Gary Paffett, McLaren Test Driver
Jenson Button, McLaren with Sergio Perez, McLaren and Gary Paffett, McLaren Test Driver

Photo by: XPB Images

The 5.451km track has an eclectic mix of corners and one very long straight, at the end of which lies the best overtaking point on the lap. The circuit’s technical demands are similar to those of Sepang, scene of the last grand prix in Malaysia, but the cooler ambient and track temperatures expected in China are going to place greater emphasis on tyre wear.

Turns 1 and 13 are particularly demanding on man and machine. The cars enter Turn 1 at 185mph and scrub off more than 140mph while turning right through 180 degrees towards the blind apex. Turn 13 is another 180-degree right-hander that opens up towards the exit as the cars accelerate throughout. Both corners will be a stern test for Pirelli’s Soft and Medium compound tyres.

McLaren has a good record at the Chinese Grand Prix, having won the race three times (in 2008, ’10 and ’11) and taken a total of nine podiums since the inaugural race in 2004.

Jenson Button: “In a funny way, the Chinese Grand Prix almost feels like something of a reboot of the start of my season. Taking home two points from the first two races obviously wasn’t what we had in mind at the beginning of the year, but I think everybody in the team has picked themselves up and really attacked the task of addressing our car’s issues. We know where we’re losing performance, so I think we’re actually all looking forward to seeing just what we can achieve in Shanghai.

“As far as the circuit goes, I’ve always enjoyed racing here: our car has always performed well around this circuit and we’ve always seemed to be able to find a good balance between the slow stuff, the high-speed changes of direction and the drag-loss needed for the long straight. It’s a pretty good place for racing, too, because that straight offers such a good opportunity for slipstreaming and overtaking. I think we can have a pretty good race next weekend, too.

“The important thing for us as a team is to go into the weekend with clear focus, hone our strengths across the sessions and increase our understanding of the car. I definitely think there’s everything to play for with this championship, and I can’t wait to get back into the cockpit to start the fight again.”

Sergio Perez: “I think there’s been a little time to breathe after the first two races of the season. That’s been important for us, as we’ve been able to get back to MTC and really throw all our efforts behind the modifications we need to make the car perform more consistently.

For me, it’s been incredible to not only see the speed of the team’s reaction, but also the positive way that everyone has pulled together to make those changes. It’s been an incredible team effort.

“So, we go into round three, and I feel there’s a lot of positivity within the team. We know that we somewhat under-performed in Australia and Malaysia, but, Jenson and I nonetheless managed to score some points.

We may not have been as far up the order as we’d have liked, but those points-finishes mean the team has now extended its unbroken scoring run to 60 races – that’s pretty incredible, and a nice record to be able to maintain.

“Like everyone within the team, I’m really looking forward to China – it’s a great track with a little bit of everything – and I think it’ll be a good test of the car.”

Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “Clearly, our performance in Australia and Malaysia fell below the high standards we’ve come to expect at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. However, the three-week break between rounds two and three has been a useful one; we have been fully engaged in further developing our understanding of the MP4-28 and are confident of being able to implement a number of changes this weekend that will widen its operating window and, potentially, improve its performance.

“The team’s ability to respond has been exemplary; as I’ve already said, the behaviour of both Jenson and Checo has been superb. They have shown themselves to be true, inspirational leaders, and they have held themselves high, as real ambassadors for our team. The engineers, designers and mechanics, too, have worked tirelessly and painstakingly to unlock the car’s potential, and we feel confident that we are starting to turn the page.

“Formula 1 is an unpredictable beast. We’ve enjoyed some very competitive weekends in Shanghai in the past – with some equally unexpected results – and I feel confident and excited that we head to China next week with the hope of making further progress and eating into the advantage currently held by the leading pack.”

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

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Tags button, china, f1, mclaren, perez, shangai

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