McLaren nose to the ground to find more pace

Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:47am EDT
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By Patrick Johnston

SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - A new promising nose box failed to lift the concerns of McLaren's Jenson Button that his team could struggle to match the pace of the Mercedes at the notoriously quick Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Briton was fourth fastest in Friday's opening session but was down in eighth in the second 90-minute run, with team mate Kevin Magnussen fifth and then 12th as first Lewis Hamilton and then Nico Rosberg set the pace for Mercedes.

"We're finding it tough out there today especially in the heat," Button told reporters behind the McLaren garage where track temperatures peaked at more than 50 Celsius.

"We're not as strong as we'd like to be in high-speed corners and, when you have downforce issues, they're further amplified by the hot weather.

"So our long runs were tricky in terms of both tire degradation and outright pace," said Button.

"The upgrades we brought here seem to be giving us something so that's encouraging but there's a lot of work still to be done."

Button, who finished third in the season-opener in Melbourne two weeks ago behind race winner Rosberg, said the team would need to keep working on their downforce issues throughout the season in order to start challenging for victories.

The first of those was the new nose box and McLaren racing director Eric Boullier was pleased with its introduction, saying he was confident engineers would work to fix the issues they encountered in the second run.   Continued...

McLaren Formula One driver Jenson Button of Britain stands in the pit lane during pre-season testing at the Jerez racetrack in southern Spain January 30, 2014. REUTERS/Jon Nazca