Jenson Button confesses he expects to drop through the pack in the opening stages of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix despite qualifying an equal-season best 12th.
The Briton matched his previous best grid slot of the year in Monaco at Yas Marina, missing out on securing McLaren's first Q3 spot of 2015 by just 0.186s.
But Button admits he expects the race will be an altogether tougher affair for the Honda-powered squad, with a lack of straight line speed set to leave him vulnerable in the early part of the race.
"The race will be more painful than qualifying, nothing has changed in that respect," said Button. "I'm sure Fernando [Alonso] will be the car behind after a couple of laps.
"We're disappointed being 12th, because we think we could have got into Q3 for the first time this year. I was 0.18s off getting into Q3, but I didn't leave anything on the table, we maximised what we had.
"The last sector was reasonably strong, but I was second to last in the middle sector because of [ERS] deployment.
"We're 28kph slower on the straight because we're cutting off deployment and it makes it look worse than it is; it costs us a lot of laptime."
Nonetheless, Button added that the feeling the car gave him in qualifying was encouraging heading into 2016.
"The car feels at its best round here as it has all year, which is promising at the end of the season," he said.