Spanish Grand Prix: Jenson Button fears Mercedes' dominance won't end any time soon
Mercedes have four wins and seven podiums in the first four races this season
Thursday 08 May 2014
Jenson Button fears Mercedes will face little opposition to their current dominance before Formula One's summer break.
With Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the wheel, Mercedes have so far crushed the opposition, claiming all four poles, race victories, as well as leading every lap.
The Brackley-based marque have been in a class of their own following the introduction of new regulations which has seen the return of turbo power in the form of a 1.6-litre V6 power unit.
With all teams boasting significant upgrades on their cars for this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona following a recent mini-break, they would like to believe they have closed the gap.
Button, though, feels Mercedes had such an advantage over the first four races it will be difficult for any rival to catch them, either at the Circuit de Catalunya or the following six grands prix ahead of the August holiday.
"Mercedes don't have any competition. They are so far in front of the field," said Button.
"In Monaco (in a fortnight) you might see Red Bull be strong and give them a run for their money, but apart from that it's going to be very tricky for anyone to challenge them over the next six or seven races.
"Mercedes will also keep developing throughout the year, and whilst we - and every other team - is trying to catch up, they're not going to stand still. They're going to upgrade the car."
Hamilton is the first British driver since Button in 2009 to triumph in three consecutive races, a run that has propelled him to within four points of Rosberg at the top of the drivers' standings.
Although the circumstances are very different compared to five years ago when Button won six of the first seven races en route to taking the world title, he knows trying to extend such a run becomes "more difficult" as time goes on.
"It's tough in a way because he is racing against his team-mate, and that's it," said Button.
"They share information. One driver will try and do one thing and the other driver will copy, and vice versa.
"It's very difficult to do a strategy in a race and to beat only one person that is your team-mate because he sees everything you are trying to do, so it is tough.
"But he seems to be doing a pretty good job so far."
As for Button and McLaren, the 34-year-old and the team are enduring a rough patch after failing to score in the last two grands prix.
After Button and rookie team-mate Kevin Magnussen claimed third and second respectively in the season-opening race in Australia, McLaren have since found their cars lack downforce.
The last race in China, in particular, was a disaster as Button and Magnussen were a lap down in 11th and 13th respectively.
"In Australia there were no high-speed corners, and at the circuit we did a very good job, got the best out of what we had, and most people didn't," said Button.
"But then other teams found their feet at the next grand prix and put us in our place.
"Overall we haven't been too bad, but maybe we have punched above our weight a little bit at the first three races and that's why our pace looked good."
With upgrades on the car for this weekend's race, Button can only hope progress has been made and that a run of three scoreless races for the first time since he joined McLaren in 2010 can be avoided.
"This isn't a circuit like China so we should be better anyway," said Button.
"Even without updates we would be more competitive so I feel the updates will help us, but then everyone has them, so I don't know where we will be this weekend.
"You can't turn things around that quickly anyway. It does take time, even if we found something amazing in the windtunnel, it takes weeks, if not months to get it on the car.
"We'll see updates throughout the year and hopefully we'll get closer to the front, but we won't be challenging Mercedes here. Definitely not."
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