Jenson Button is more than capable of bouncing back from his current troubles in Formula 1, claim his bosses, even though his tire struggles risk derailing his World Championship challenge.
The Briton endured a difficult time in the Canadian Grand Prix, as he struggled for grip throughout the race and eventually finished a lackluster 16th. Button admitted he is baffled by what has gone on, and the fact he has scored just two points in the last four races – and sits 43 points behind championship-leading teammate Lewis Hamilton – suggest that he needs to get on top of the matter immediately if his title hopes are not to evaporate.
Button's McLaren bosses think that the problems are not as dramatic as they appear, however, and they reckon that the Canada issues were the legacy of a lack of running from Friday practice, when a gearbox problem hampered him.
"It is not a long-term concern, it is a frustration and a disappointment," explained McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh when asked about how much of a worry Button's struggles were. "Jenson is a great racing driver and we served him badly this weekend. His rear tires were completely shot. We didn't long-run with this suspension setup on Friday and that was our fault, as we didn't give him a racecar he could perform in.
"But we know how smart and strong-minded he is. So he will keep his head up, and he could be the first driver to repeat a win this season."
Whitmarsh revealed that McLaren tried out a new rear suspension configuration with Button in Canada, to try and help him overcome his main problem which is switching the tires on.
"I think these tires have such a fine peak window and if you fall out of that, you are history," he noted. "Or you start wearing your tires, or getting them too hot, and the grip is gone then it gets away from you.
"I think Lewis was clearly able to turn the tires on very quickly. I think he was driving with confidence and he was able to attack with the front tires and get them fired up very quickly, so I don't think that was such a significant factor as some of us thought it would be before the race.
"With Jenson we had different suspension and we weren't able to long run that on Friday, so his left-rear tire was shot. Jenson is a smooth driver and if he is doing that [wearing out the tires], then we didn't get the setup right.
"We will do more analysis, but he has a smart head on his shoulders and he is capable of coming back, and I hope he does."