Jenson Button says early-summer form slump was due to set-up blind alley
|By Edd Straw and Matt Beer||Tuesday, August 21st 2012, 11:09 GMT|
Jenson Button says going back to basics on his set-up and adapting his driving style to better suit the 2012 Pirelli tyres were the key to getting back on the pace.
The McLaren driver scored just seven points in the six Formula 1 races between his second place finishes in China and Germany, and was struggling to even qualify in the top 10.
Button said his personal breakthrough came in Valencia, but that it was only when McLaren's German Grand Prix upgrade kicked in that he was able to show he had conquered his issues.
"From Valencia and the British Grand Prix I was confident in the car and felt like I was doing a good job, we just didn't have the pace as a team," he said. "Previous to that, it was more that we were trying new things with the car, and they definitely didn't work, and I wasn't happy with the balance.
"The worst races for me were Monaco and Canada. That was difficult, but when you've been racing for as long as I have, you know there are reasons for you not being on the pace, and I think we've solved a lot of those issues.
"A lot of it was going back to what we knew a little bit more and for Valencia I was much happier with the car - we just didn't get the result we wanted and nothing went our way."
He said his issues with the Pirelli tyres had led to the team taking the wrong direction around Monaco.
"I find [the tyres] very difficult to understand, that's why we tried a few new things this year in Canada and Monaco and places like that, because I felt I needed to find a bit more direction with the tyres, and what we tried definitely didn't work," Button said.
"So we went back to what we had at the start of the year at Valencia, and that's when we started being more competitive in terms of me within the team being more competitive, not compared to Ferrari and Mercedes and Red Bull but compared to Lewis [Hamilton]."
Button explained that keeping the Pirellis in the correct operating window had been his main issue, with his famously smooth style not always paying dividends.
"Most of the problem this year has been in and out of the range where they work, and that's a difficulty," he said. "You try and drive gentle with them to look after them, and they drop out of the range and you end up damaging the tyre more than if you keep them in the range and are aggressive with the tyre.
"It's been very difficult, especially for me, because my style of driving initially didn't suit the tyres - I've had to adapt a little bit."
He added: "The car, if you get the temperature in the tyres and the tyres working, is good in whatever condition – the problem is if we don't get the temperature we're nowhere, which is understandable."