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Jenson Button says it has been ‘very tricky’ to understand the true performance of McLaren’s new MP4-28 chassis during pre-season testing so far, explaining that at times the car feels comfortable to drive and at other moments it is more of a handful.
The Briton, who finished seventh on his first day in Barcelona, says although the issues are slightly disconcerting, it is impossible to judge McLaren's current position.
"It's been very tricky to understand where the car is," Button told reporters in the paddock. "At times the car feels good, but at other times it doesn't. A lot of that is understanding the car and understanding the way it's working to make sure it's working the way we expect it to be. Some of the time that hasn't been the case.
"At Jerez we showed pace, but we also showed that we don't have pace at other times. We don't know where we are and there's no point trying to compare us to others. We've got to sort out our own issues and get the best out of our car."
Button added that although simply carrying over the successful MP4-27 with minor tweaks would have ensured instant performance in Australia, a significant design change is required to ensure a strong rate of development throughout the season.
"For us, it's always important to change the car over the winter so we can see a new development direction throughout the year," he said. "It's a long season at 19 races. It's about being strong over the whole season and not just the first couple of races. I’m still hoping that we’re competitive in Melbourne, but there's a possibility that the teams that kept the same car as last year and just developed it could also be strong."
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