The Bahrain Grand Prix was a disappointing event for all at McLaren. An unremarkable qualifying performance – Jenson gridded sixth and Kevin eighth – was followed by a race showing that could have resulted in a decent points-scoring finish, for Button at least, but instead ended in a double DNF owing to clutch problems on both cars.
Jenson Button, MP4-29-04, DNF: “In terms of pace, we took a step forward this weekend. Moreover, our degradation was positive and I think we did a very good job understanding our tyres. Only one team were demonstrably quicker than us today – Mercedes – but sadly they were a lot quicker than us. Having said that, our long-run pace was very good, especially over the last few laps, so I reckon we could have raced very hard to the finish on the Primes. But unfortunately I didn’t get that opportunity.
“It’s tough for all the team, because they all worked really well and really hard. We were set for fifth place at worst and a podium finish at best, and that would have been a very positive outcome for all of us. In summary, then, there was lots of good racing out there – I can’t even remember how many cars I overtook but it was quite a lot – and I think it was the same for almost everyone out there. I really enjoyed it, in fact.
“Formula 1 may have new power units and technical regs this year, but it’s clearly every bit as good as it ever was in terms of on-track spectacle.”
Kevin Magnussen, MP4-29-01, DNF: “That wasn’t a great race for me. The start wasn’t ideal – I lost three positions – and after that we just didn’t have enough pace to make progress towards the front. We’d been expecting that the colder conditions might help us, but, as things panned out, we were actually a little less strong here than we were in Malaysia, for some reason.
“We’ll analyse that carefully, and I’m sure we’ll learn from it. We’re learning all the time, in fact. It’s disappointing that we didn’t score points today – two DNFs is never pleasant for any team – but we’ll approach the Chinese Grand Prix with the aim of doing quite a bit better than we did here in Bahrain.”
Eric Boullier, Racing director, McLaren Mercedes: “Well, it goes without saying that we’re leaving Bahrain bitterly disappointed. We didn’t have the fastest car this weekend, we know that, but, had our cars not both been afflicted with clutch problems towards the end of the race, triggering their retirements, at least we’d have been leaving with some more championship points on the scoreboard.
“In fact, had Jenson’s car run reliably to the flag, there’s every chance that he’d have been fighting for fifth, fourth or potentially even third place. Granted, minor placings aren’t what McLaren is all about – on the contrary we exist to win – but a third-, fourth- or fifth-place finish would have been extremely welcome in terms of our achieving what we’d set out to accomplish in these early-in-the-season fly-away races: namely, steadily pick up championship points while we develop our car’s performance envelope for the beginning of the European season in Barcelona.
“Anyway, from here we’ll go back to Woking, where we’ll work as hard as we possibly can to improve our cars for Shanghai, where we’ll be hoping to put up a significantly better showing than we did here in Sakhir this evening.”