An upbeat Jenson Button says that McLaren had a good first day with its new MP4-27 at Jerez.
The car had already been shaken down by test driver Oliver Turvey with some aero testing on Saturday, but nevertheless the team still had a lot of work to do today.
This time last year the team already knew that it was in trouble with a car that was both slow and unreliable, and which was only improved when its complex exhaust system was scrapped before the first race.
2009 World Champion Button was not worried about being only eighth fastest on a day when overall times meant very little.
“It’s been a good day,” said Button. “This morning we did our installation, and all the systems checks, which probably took a little bit longer than I would have wished for. But apart from that, the running’s been good.
“Basically it’s just been running to get all the data in terms of aerodynamics, the downforce levels, temperatures, the feeling inside the cockpit. We did a 15-lap timed run, which was nice to get done today, a good starting point.
“There are no niggly areas with the car, which is nice, quite different to last year! I’m happy. As I said it’s still the starting point, and we didn’t do any set-up work today to improve the balance, and you’re never going to start off with a perfect car. Just putting some miles on it, really. I’m very happy in the car, I’m in a good position, I’m really low, which I always like.”
Button said he was especially pleased with the cockpit position: “I try to get as low as possible, with the way the car is. I can just about see out, which I love, I love that position. I’m well inside the car, I feel I’m part of it, and there are some promising times.
“But we don’t know where we stand, and we won’t know until the first race. The important thing for us is to get a good, clean day tomorrow, put some more miles on the car, find a direction with the car. We have so many different things to test that we’ve tried in the simulator already.”
Button said the car felt faster than he had anticipate, given the loss of diffuser blowing in 2012.
“One thing I must say is that I thought we would have a lot less grip than we do have on the first day. It seems that that’s the case for everyone. The times are obviously very quick round here this year, considering the regulation change. But even compared to the simulator I feel that the car is more together and it feels like a very good base.”