BARCELONA (Reuters) - Jenson Button saw signs of real progress at McLaren on Friday after a day’s work where he completed 101 laps of the Circuit de Catalunya in Formula One testing.
“Wow, we have something to talk about. I‘m sorry I‘m late but I had a really long debrief with the engineers,” he said, grinning to a crowd of reporters who had waited for him to appear in the team hospitality tent.
“Good progress made today, it wasn’t hard really from yesterday,” added the Briton who had managed only one timed lap the day before.
McLaren, the second most successful team in terms of race wins, have had a woeful pre-season with the start of their new partnership with Honda beset with reliability problems.
To put it all into perspective, Button’s lap tally from Friday was one more than they had managed in the first five days of testing.
“The reliability has been great today, a really big step forward by everyone,” said Button whose double world champion team mate Fernando Alonso is absent from the final test after crashing heavily at the circuit on Sunday.
”It’s amazing what you get done when you have a reliable car...so a lot of positives out of today. If you look at the timing screens we’re nowhere near quick enough but there’s a lot we can improve on for the next couple of days.
“All the aerodynamicists and engineers were just sinking their teeth into what we’ve done today. For most teams 100 laps isn’t really anything. But for us it’s like 1,000 laps because there’s so much still for us to learn about this package.”
The season starts in Australia on March 15 and Button, who was fifth fastest of the nine drivers in action, hoped the team would be able to close out testing with two more solid days with plenty of laps.
“I think there’s still a long way to go, a lot to work with in terms of the way the car feels,” he said. “But the feeling is reasonably good. A work in progress. We are definitely not where we want to be.”
McLaren have not won a race since 2012 and slipped to fifth overall last year.
Editing by Tony Jimenez