After a shaky start to the season, Jenson Button has been a happy man in recent days, and with good reason. His unfortunate exit from the Malaysian Grand Prix sums up the season for Mclaren so far: very close, yet so far.
Everyone at Mclaren has been quick to point out the shortcomings of this year’s challenger, though they do so with a glimmer of hope in their eyes. The MP4-28 with all it’s current shortcomings promises to be one of the most impressive cars of the season. It’s up to the team to unlock the heaps of potential the minds from Woking have designed into the car.
While running in Malaysia was expected to be less painful than in Australia, no one was really expecting Jenson to be fighting in the top five of the race. Jenson himself mentioned regrettably after his exit that he could have even been in the podium had his final pitstop not gone all wrong.
I hesitate to believe that much from the 2009 champ, as I didn’t see much from his lap times to suggest he had top-three pace, but the underlying promise of the Mclaren design is becoming more and more apparent.
In China, we should expect more improvements in the Mclaren camp, with the three week break providing a welcome reprieve from the arduous schedule of the opening two flyaway races. Upgrades are expected and the characteristics if the track should curtail the problems that set Mclaren back at the moment. The major problem with the MP4-28 is its inability to get the airflow working optimally under the car. Because of this, the smoother characteristics of Sepang helped Mclaren vault themselves into the higher end of the top ten. Shanghai should offer up an even smoother track surface which, allied with upgrades, should make the step onto the podium all the more feasible.
If the race in Australia seemed like misery, then China may well be the start of recovery.