Jenson Button is optimistic that Brawn GP has got to the bottom of the tyre heating issues that have stalled his world championship campaign – but says the team will only find out on Friday whether such faith is justified.
Button's title lead has been slashed by Red Bull Racing duo Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel in the last three races, with Brawn GP's cars struggling for grip after being unable to get its tires up to operating temperature.
However, Button believes that work undertaken over the summer break at Brawn's Brackley factory has produced the answers as to what has gone wrong – and tests will be conducted in Friday practice in Valencia to work out if the team's work has been a success.
"Well, after the break and after the two weeks when they couldn't work at the factory, they spent a few days to work on the car and come up with some ideas," said Button ahead of this weekend's European Grand Prix. "Then I spoke to my engineer 'Shov' (Andy Shovlin) last Monday, and we ran through everything and what we had for this circuit aerodynamically in terms of improvements. And also the step by step over the season in terms of where we have gone with the car mechanically – the ride, the weight distribution and the rest of the mechanical setup.
"We ran through everything, and saw a bit of a trend, so we think we know some of the reasons for our issues with tire temperature. Normally, going in the direction that we have gone is the preferred route because you are looking after the tires, but with the way the tires are you need to be aggressive with them. You need to get them to work and you need to get them into their working range – otherwise, the aerodynamic improvements you have on the car mean nothing, because the four tires are the things that are on the road and if you cannot get them working then nothing else really matters."
He added: "We know getting the tires to work is important, so we come here this weekend positive, as we should be, and we are going to test a few things that we had on the car in the earlier races, do some comparisons between both cars and on both cars, and we will see how it goes.
"By the end of tomorrow we might put our hands up and go, 'We really do not know why we still cannot get the tires working,' but I am positive that we know the reasons and we can get the car back to where it was. It is not we can improve the car, it is understanding the issues and getting the car back to where it was three races ago where the car felt good – and then you can see the improvements that you have made with the car.
"So it is a strange situation, but even if the track is cool here this weekend I am hoping and I really feel that we can get this car working and get the tires working – but we will not know until after tomorrow. It all sounds great in the engineering office, and I believe them that this is the direction we need to take; but we will see tomorrow."
Button declined, however, to reveal what area the team has focused on to help its tire issues though.
"I think it's better for us to leave it as it is at the moment and just get on with the weekend. After the weekend, we might tell you."