Button Confident that McLaren has Made Strides Forward

Jenson Button,  McLaren’s reserve driver has doled out praise on the team’s improvements in Barcelona, saying their P7 result was fantastic.

Finally, after weeks of hiding under a rock somewhere with his dogs, Jenson Button has emerged to talk about his stint in the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix, as well as the markedly improved performance that the slew of upgrades have brought to McLaren’s 2017 challenger. Button has been spending the majority of his time in the McLaren simulator, having turned down an earlier opportunity to test the car out on the track.

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO – MAY 25: Jenson Button of McLaren and Great Britain during the Monaco F1 Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 25, 2014 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Peter J Fox/Getty Images)

Although Button has spent his time recently inside a virtual simulation of the car, his recount of the years of experience within it is something that may turn some skeptical gazes his way:

“I also fell into the port twice today [on the simulator], and hopefully that will not happen.

After Turn 1 [Sainte Devote] you go up the hill, I fell off on the right-hand side. And rolled.

I’ve never rolled in the simulator before – but I rolled! Lucky enough the impact isn’t as big as in reality, but you still get a jolt and a bit of G-force.”

– Jenson Button

Far be it for us to take Button’s aptitude behind the wheel in a single-seater into question, but it does seem a bit funny that the man who declined an opportunity to test the physical car out on the track has encountered such grim issues within the simulator. Button’s not been out of practice for so long to warrant such mistakes, but perhaps he’s just pushing harder than usual given that there are no physical repercussions to his actions inside of the virtual machine.

Jenson Button of Great Britain drives the #5 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes McLaren MP4-28 Mercedes Benz during the Grand Prix of Monaco on 26th May 2013 on the streets of the Principality of Monaco in Monte Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Rainer W. Schlegelmilch/Getty Images)

Virtual reality antics aside, it seems that all it took to cheer Button up about his upcoming stint in Monaco was to witness Fernando Alonso’s P7 finish in Barcelona last week. The Brit is looking to that P7 placement as a barometer for his own performance in Monaco, saying:

“It was great to see the performance in Barcelona in qualifying by Fernando.

P7 – what a step forward. He obviously did a great lap but it shows how much improvement the team has made. It is massive. I can’t say how many points of downforce but it was a lot, and there is another good step for Monaco as well.

If ‘Fonzy’ [Alonso] can put it seventh in Barcelona then we should be looking sweet for Monaco.”

– Jenson Button

Jenson Button, McLaren Mercedes, Monaco, Monte Carlo, 29 May 2011. (Photo by Rainer W. Schlegelmilch/Getty Images)

Thus far, this is the only stint that Button will be substituted in for a current McLaren driver. He’s only got a year left on his contract with the team, and he’s a free bird after that. Though the possibility of him returning to McLaren as a full-time driver in the future seems to remain incredibly slim, it remains to be seen if his performance in Monaco will re-ignite his desire to compete in the ranks of Formula One once more. Then again, if McLaren doesn’t straighten out their issues with Honda the word “competing” won’t have a place in their dictionary for next year.