Jenson Button believes McLaren-Honda can become a factor in the bottom-end of the midfield in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix, rather than being consigned to the back of the field like in Melbourne.
Speaking after today’s free practice sessions, which he ended 2.8s off the frontrunning pace, Button said progress had been made.
“We learnt a lot, we tried a few things that definitely didn’t work for us but at least we know now,” said Button. “In terms of development with the engine, and getting the maximum out of what we have right now we’ve learnt a lot already.
“We have quite a bit more power, but still working on driveability in some areas. Fine-tuning some things and in some things we’ve made a big step. It’s tricky here, because the grip levels are so low.”
Taking the fight to those ahead
Although McLaren is expected to be well ahead of Manor Marussia this weekend, Button has set his sights on the tail-end of the midfield to bring the Woking squad further up the grid.
“It’s been tough but we’ve seemed a bit more competitive than last race compared to other cars,” said Button. “I might have been wrong yesterday when I said we won’t race other cars – that might be a possibility, that would be a massive step forward if that is the case.
“We’re definitely getting a lot more out of the engine here, which is good,” he added. “It’s not like we have new parts, we’re maximizing what we have. We’ve definitely made some improvements. But it’s still a long way to go.
“The long run on the option tyre didn’t seem too bad, we weren’t far off the Force India and the Sauber – that’s what we’re looking at to improve.”