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GP Week : Issue 158
Jenson Button is going through something of a rough patch at the moment, struggling to get performance out of a race-winning car. Following the Canadian Grand Prix, which saw the McLaren driver finish in P16 after being lapped by his race-winning team-mate, the Briton admitted to feeling lost and confused regarding his poor showing this year. “I'm pushing the car to its limits and yet I'm so far off the leaders,” he said. “It's a little bit confusing. Every time you jump in the car you're confident and excited it's going to go well, and every time you make changes you think you are going to improve. But it's not happening. I'm confused and very lost. I don't really understand what is going on at the moment.” Unsurprisingly, Button’s poor turn of form has been the subject of much discussion in the paddock, and there are a number of credible theories doing the rounds. Lead among them is the fact that Button seems to be the driver suffering the most as a result of the 2012 regulation changes that brought about an end to the ‘exhaust- blown diffuser’. While Red Bull were the team to make the most of the EBD, part of Button’s success last year was his ability to switch on the Pirelli tyres with ease before using his traditionally smooth style to keep the rubber in its optimal operating window for much longer than his rivals at the head of the pack. And the EBD was a major boon for Button in that regard. A downside of having a light touch on rubber can be that it’s harder to get the tyres up to operating temperature at the start of a race or qualifying session. But with the EBD funnelling the exhaust gases over the rear end – including the tyres – Button was able to get the stable back end he favours without stressing out his rubber. With the EBD gone, however, and the narrower operating window of this year’s rubber, the 2009 world champion is struggling to get the necessary heat into his tyres. Consequently, he’s also losing vital rear-end stability. But according to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, Button’s problems stem from an FIA-mandated change to the MP4-27’s floor following the Chinese Grand Prix. According to the German newspaper, post-race scrutineering in China found that the McLaren’s front wing was flexing excessively, with scratches on the endplates. The British team argued that the flexing was within tolerances laid out in the regulations, to which AMuS quote Charlie Whiting as responding: “The tolerance is there to account for manufacturing defects.” McLaren subsequently modified their car in accordance with the FIA’s requirements, and ever since the team have been unable to find the ideal set-up for the Australian Grand Prix winner. BUTTON VICTIM OF RULES? 3 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> NEWS