McLaren driver Jenson Button believes that the ban on blown diffusers for 2012 has led to teams having a stronger correlation between gains in the wind tunnel and performance on the track.
With an effective ban in place thanks to regulations dictating where the exhausts must be positioned, all of the teams running the concept last year have lost a significant amount of rear downforce. But Button reckons a positive by-product of this is that there is now less mystery in generating consistent downforce.
"It's a lot more straightforward than last year in terms of trying to find downforce," he said, after completing his preseason preparations ahead of the Melbourne opener. "When you see something in the wind tunnel, you stick it on the car and it goes quicker. But with the blown exhaust you could try so many things in the wind tunnel. You think it's going to give you a second, then put it on the car and its slower. It is very difficult to work with it. Now if it works in the wind tunnel, it pretty much works at the track. Less downforce – but the feeling is still pretty good."
Button says he feels much more confident going into the season than he did 12 months ago, when McLaren endured a fractured build up after encountering several reliability issues and suffering from a lack of running. This time around the new MP4-27 has not only proven reliable, it looks to be a strong and competitive baseline with which to start the season.
"I'm a lot happier with everything," said Button, despite being limited to 44 laps of running on his final day because of a hydraulic problem, and having not tried a long run on the final-spec car.
"[Last year we were] running round, scratching our heads, wondering what we've done wrong. Last year we had the problem of the exhausts cracking and also that we just weren't fast, which I think we kept a secret behind the exhaust problems. It was a very hard winter and when you have reliability issues you can't do any proper testing.
"You always want more testing, especially after something like today. Hopefully, Lewis can take things on tomorrow."