Jenson Button 'mentally drained' by McLaren's poor performance

Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton delighted after first race for Mercedes

Melbourne

Just one race into the new Formula One season and the messages coming from the respective camps of British drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button could not be more different.

While Hamilton was happy enough after enjoying a solid debut for Mercedes in Sunday’s opener here, the same cannot be said of Button and his beleaguered McLaren team.

For Hamilton, there is a certain sense of vindication after all the criticism he faced when he announced he was quitting McLaren after 13 years with a team that had nurtured him.

After qualifying third and finishing fifth at Albert Park behind race winner Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus, Hamilton said: “For all of us, we were not expecting to be competing where we were.

“But we could have done better. We definitely had the capability to do better and have a good development platform now, and I am really, really happy with the result.

“I definitely feel the team is flat out, is on it, and we are going in the right direction.”

As for Button, simply scoring his two points for ninth place was “a bonus” as McLaren are yet to understand the car they have developed for this year. Throughout most of the weekend here in Melbourne, team principal Martin Whitmarsh appeared ashen in answering questions about the MP4-28, but was at least honest to admit his marque’s failings.

Button said: “For any team that works so hard through the winter, to arrive at the first race and not have the performance, mentally it is very draining.”

Button also defended Whitmarsh, whose position is potentially in danger after four years in charge without a title, and after overseeing this latest horrendous wrong turn.

Button added: “He is the boss. Everyone looks up to Martin. It’s difficult to always be strong, but he is doing a bloody good job. It is everybody’s job to stay positive. We have to say what we think about the car, that is how it is. We cannot say everything is hunky-dory because it is not.

“We know we have work to do, but we are all very strong within this team, and we work very closely together as a family. There is no finger-pointing. We want to improve, but it is going to be a long journey for us I think.”

That journey has led to speculation McLaren could even resort to resurrecting last year’s car. Asked whether that was a possibility, Whitmarsh said: “It’s not an option for Malaysia [for this weekend’s Grand Prix], no. We have to work hard on this car.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future