Slow start for Button but Alonso’s off to a flyer
Jenson Button insisted he was quite content with his first day in his new McLaren in Valencia yesterday, even though he was 1.4 sec slower than pacesetter Fernando Alonso who went home “cautiously happy” after dominating for Ferrari.
The Spaniard's first pukka appearance for the Scuderia triggered traffic queues as an estimated crowd of 40,000 fans flocked to the Autodromo Ricardo Tormo to see their hero set the fastest time of the three-day test. Alonso eclipsed team-mate Felipe Massa's best of 1m 11.722s from the previous day, with 1m 11.470s.
Button's first runs in his new McLaren did not set the track alight. After an initial three-lap sortie he spent more than an hour and a half in the pits while the team honed his comfort and position in the cockpit and adjusted his sight lines over the high nose. Later he did another 79 laps in a series of long runs intended to establish a set-up and balance that suited him, with a best time of 1m 12.951s which was only fifth fastest.
Playing down what seemed like a low-key debut, he said: “Initially it wasn't quite where I wanted it to be, I was sitting quite high in the car. But this test was always to get used to the environment inside the cockpit, and working with the team. I have got good visibility now.”
Looking at the lap times, he added: “I think you can say that Ferrari are fast, but we don't know how fast. You never know what fuel they are running.
“But this is the wrong place for us to be thinking about who is quick and who isn't. I think at the next test [in Jerez] we might have more of an understanding. Then you can work out who is quick and who isn't. But at the moment it’s important for us to put our blinkers on and work with our car and improve it.”