By Alex Kapadia
McLaren driver Jenson Button is experiencing the utter frustration of not being able to get to grips with his Formula One tyres.
While his team-mate Lewis Hamilton celebrated a tremendous victory at the Canadian Grand Prix last weekend, Button only managed 16th place.
And to add to his frustration, the former world champion has found himself the subject of intense scrutiny and speculation over his ability to “switch on” Pirelli’s latest tyres.
The window of operation for the tyres is so narrow, limited to a few degrees. If drivers fail to get them hot enough, or if they overheat them, they never drop back down to the right temperature – either way the result is a car that slides around.
Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren chief, said: “We know these tyres have such a fine peak window and if you fall out of that, you are history,.
“Start getting them too hot, and the grip is gone and then it gets away from you.”
To add pressure on Button, while he languishes in eigth place on the world championship leader board, Hamilton has stormed to the top spot.
But Whitmarsh revealed that Button’s loss of form is a set-back not a disaster. He said: “It’s not a long-term concern, it’s a frustration and a disappointment.
“Lewis was clearly able to turn the tyres on very quickly. He was driving with confidence and he was able to attack with the front tyres and get them fired up very quickly, so I don’t think that was such a significant factor as some of us thought it would be before the race.
“Jenson is a great racing driver and we served him badly this weekend. His rear tyres were completely shot. We didn’t give him a race car he could perform in. But we know how smart and strong-minded he is. So he will keep his head up, and he could still be the first driver to repeat a win this season. He has a smart head on his shoulders and he’s capable of coming back.”