McLaren's Jenson Button has voiced his concerns over the team's lack of pace in relation to other cars on the grid, after a poor ninth place finish at last week's Spanish Grand Prix. The British driver qualified a disappointing tenth place on the grid at Catalunya, while his team mate Lewis Hamilton was at the other end of the top ten - on pole - although he was later stripped off that time when he ran out of fuel and was forced to stop his car in the middle of the track after the qualifying session concluded.
The miscalculation in Hamilton's case and the lack of pace for Button has not hampered the team's quest for the Driver's and Constructor's title as yet but the general feeling is that there needs to be an improvement.
McLaren are second the race for the Constructor's crown, with 98 points to defending champion Red Bull's 109 and Hamilton is second in the race for the Driver's title with 53 points to leaders Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) and Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) on 61; Button is sixth with 45.
"It was a tough weekend, especially on Sunday. The most important thing is to understand why I didn't have any pace over the weekend on low and high fuel. Even if qualifying doesn't go well, normally we can get some good points in the race, but I couldn't look after my tyres and I didn't have any pace. It's something that's a concern," Button is quoted as saying in a report by the Telegraph.
Meanwhile, McLaren team chief Martin Whitmarsh has dismissed concerns the errors in recent weeks could lead to Hamilton considering his future at the team. The 2008 World Champion is negotiating to extend his contract, which ends this season, with the side. The most recent error was that which saw him demoted to the back of the grid during the Spanish Grand Prix, after qualifying on pole.
"I was concerned because it is a pretty tough thing to happen to a driver. But I have to say he showed some greatness I had not seen before. By the end of our chat he was consoling me. To say I was disappointed is a modest expression of what I felt. He was saying 'we win and lose as a team'. He was a great, great driver this weekend," Whitmarsh was quoted in a second Telegraph report.
"My affection and admiration for Lewis have been enhanced by events this weekend. The relationship between Lewis and the team is stronger and better and hopefully we will work together for a long time," he added.
Finally, McLaren are set to loan equipment, according to the Telegraph, to the Williams F1 team for this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, after the latter suffered a tragic explosion and fire in its garages during trophy presentation for the Spanish Grand Prix; fortunately the blaze was quickly brought under control and injuries were kept to a minimum.
The next race in the calendar is the Monaco Grand Prix, with the first two Free Practice sessions scheduled, as is traditional, for Thursday rather than Friday. The final Free Practice and Qualifying sessions will take place on Saturday, 26 May and the race on Sunday, 27 May.