Button expects close season
Jenson Button believes that the current regulations will see the field closer than ever at the start of 2012.
McLaren endured a difficult pre-season in 2011 but was able to recover with an upgraded blown-diffuser in time for the first race in Australia. The FIA has since regulated where the exhausts can exit the car in order to prevent the aggressive use of the exhaust gases, and after finishing the first day of testing at Jerez Button said the change would bring all of the teams closer together.
"It does feel very different to testing last year, which is a good thing really because it's not like we can stick on an exhaust which gives us two seconds at the first race," Button told reporters at Jerez. "The regulations are very different now, so I think you're going to see the cars a lot more bunched up this season, especially at the start of the year.
"Obviously when racing gets underway and you're always improving the car through the season then I think the field will split a little bit more, but at the start of the year I think you're going to have a lot of cars that are within a few tenths which is great - it's great for the sport it just makes things a little bit more complicated and difficult for us."
Button also said that he had been pleasantly surprised with the performance of the MP4-27 without the blown diffuser.
"I was surprised; I thought that we'd have more issues under braking because the downforce that the top teams were producing from the blown diffuser last year was staggering. To lose that much you would think you would struggle, and the difference between on-throttle and off-throttle you'd think would be massive but it's not such an issue. I suppose you balance whatever you have; whatever grip you have you find a way of balancing it and that's what we've done. I don't feel it's a massive issue, it's not something that I would point out and say that's a weakness with the car."
Having set the eighth fastest time of the day, Button added that it had been a productive day for McLaren and that the car felt better than it had in the simulator.
"I'm much lower in the car, and the way the car is I can just about see out which I love. I love that position, so I'm well inside the car, feel like I'm part of it and there's some promising signs. We don't know where we stand and we won't until the first race but the important thing for us is to get a good clean day tomorrow, put some more miles on the car, find a direction with the car; we have so many different things to test that we've tried in the simulator already.
"One thing that I must say is that I thought we'd have a lot less grip than we do have on the first day, but it seems that that's the case for everyone. The times are obviously very quick this year round here considering the regulation change, but even compared to the simulator I feel that the car is more together and it feels a very good base for the coming days."