Jenson Button believes McLaren-Honda should not fear being uncompetitive in the Canadian Grand Prix, because aspects of the MP4-31 chassis can compensate for the Honda engine’s lack of power.
McLaren-Honda was left disappointed by its performance in the recent Monaco GP, despite Fernando Alonso finishing fifth and both cars scoring points, and the nature of the Montreal Formula 1 circuit looks potentially even more difficult for the team.
It highlighted Honda’s shortcomings in its return to F1 last year, and before he retired from the race Alonso claimed he was being made to look like an “amateur”.
Straightline sections punctuated by slow corners and chicanes dominate the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, but McLaren has focused the aerodynamic development of its car on avoiding drag, which should help the Honda engine on the long straights.
McLaren has also worked on improving the braking performance of its car, which was a weakness in 2015. This combination of factors means McLaren-Honda could potentially enjoy a far more competitive showing in Canada this year, especially if Honda decides to bring an engine update to the event.
“Although this is one of the fastest circuits on the calendar, and very power-hungry, one of the strengths of our chassis is stability under heavy braking, so we shouldn’t be fearful of going to a circuit like this and finding ourselves on the back foot,” Button said.
“Our development rate is steep and there’s huge work going on behind the scenes to constantly improve the performance of our whole package, so I’m excited to see how we perform in Canada, given how different the circuit’s characteristics are compared to Monaco.”