Jenson Button is convinced McLaren did the right thing in waiting as long as possible to unveil its new car, as the new McLaren MP4-26 was revealed in Berlin today.
McLaren opted to wait until after the first preseason Formula 1 test to unveil its new car, having used an interim MP4-25 to focus on tire development and understanding in Valencia this week. Although that decision means that the team's main rivals have had three days of running so far with their new cars, Button thinks that McLaren holds the advantage because it has benefited from more development time with its 2011 challenger and it has been able to focus solely on getting a better grip on Pirelli tire characteristics.
"I am sure they are saying also that they have got an advantage because they are driving the new car already, and doing setup work, KERS work and rear wing work," Button said, "but I think that for us as a team we understand KERS and that is important," he said when asked about the benefits of having a stable platform for the first test.
"I think it was important for us to spend as much time as possible building our car and that when we get it on the circuit it is competitive.
"For us it was the best situation to go to Valencia with the old car and to drive the new Pirellis, and it is good because we can compare the tires – and you can get lost if there is so much going on.
"We have had to limit also some setup changes and really think about what we are doing, because you are just getting used to the tire the whole time. But we found some really interesting things at the test and we should be happy with what we have learned."
The new McLaren features some interesting concepts, including a long, flat, high nose, radical, high L-shaped sidepods, and airbox tweaks. The version rolled out features a more standard exhaust layout, unlike the Renault version seen in testing at Valencia this week
Button says he feel far more integrated with McLaren this year because he has had a whole winter of preparation.
"It has been a good year actually," he explained. "Before Christmas I spent a lot of time at the factory driving the simulator and getting fitted into the new car. And I feel a lot more at home in the car. I haven't driven it yet, but the position in the car, I am properly in it. I feel very comfortable and I can feel the car has been built around me, and that is something that wasn't possible last year because I arrived so late.
"I am the tallest driver, so I am the limiting factor, but I fit in very well and I am in a much more comfortable position, which is important. We have just been making steps forward in many different areas. Lewis and myself have been giving a lot of feedback and it has been a good winter of simulator work, and we have a good simulator model of this tire, which is very lucky.
"If all that setup effort works when we put it on the car, in reality, we will be in a very good position already in Jerez."
Button also thinks McLaren's chances of success are boosted by the good relationship he has enjoyed with teammate Lewis Hamilton.
"We have both achieved a lot in our careers already, but we want to achieve a hell of a lot more," he said. "We want to beat each other, but we also want to work together because two technically minded people, rather than one, makes a big difference.
"You can throw comments out there, and really work against each other, or you can work with each other. It has really helped us learn over the year in 2010 and you will see this year we will be a lot stronger."