Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton go to Malaysian Grand Prix with plenty to work on
Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button flew out to Kuala Lumpur yesterday with contrasting emotions.
The British duo were both left surprised by their finishing positions in yesterday’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix, and are in no doubt there is plenty of room for improvement.
But whilst Hamilton was happy enough after enjoying a solid debut for Mercedes, Button has been left wondering where it has all gone wrong for McLaren after doing well to finish ninth.
For Hamilton, there is a certain sense of vindication after all the criticism he faced when he announced he was quitting McLaren after 13 years with a team that had nurtured him into Formula One.
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After qualifying third and finishing fifth at Melbourne’s Albert Park behind race winner Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus, Hamilton said: “For all of us, we were not expecting to be competing where we were.
“But we could have done better. We definitely had the capability to do better, it’s just that some things didn’t play into our hands.
“We still take a lot out of the race, we’re positive, and for the next race (in Malaysia on Sunday) we will be even stronger.
“We have a good development platform now, and I am really, really happy with the result. Who would have thought I’d be competing at the front when everyone was talking us down?”
It leaves Hamilton convinced better results and performances will arrive sooner rather than later.
Hamilton added: “I definitely feel the team is flat out, is on it, and we are going in the right direction.”
As for Button, simply scoring his two points for ninth place was “a bonus” as McLaren are yet to understand the car they have developed for this year.
Throughout most of the weekend in Melbourne, team principal Martin Whitmarsh appeared ashen in answering questions about the MP4-28, but was at least honest to admit his marque’s failings.
“For any team that works so hard through the winter, to arrive at the first race and not have the performance, is tough for all of us,” said Button.
“But for it to be a top team like McLaren, who have achieved so much and also had strong years over the past three years, even though we didn’t win the championship, it’s really tricky for us.
“Mentally it is very draining.”
Button also defended Whitmarsh, whose head is potentially on the chopping block after four barren years in charge without a title.
The 33-year-old added: “He is the boss. Everyone looks up to Martin. It’s difficult to always be strong, but he is doing a bloody good job.
“It is everybody’s job to stay positive. We have to say what we think about the car, that is how it is. We cannot say everything is hunky-dory because it is not.
“We know we have work to do, but we are all very strong within this team, and we do work very closely together as a family. There is no finger-pointing.
“We want to improve, but it is going to be a long journey for us I think.”