Jenson Button says his Belgian Grand Prix qualifying lap was as good as the one with which he secured pole position at Spa three years ago.
The British McLaren driver endured another torrid day, qualifying down in 17th position, a full second behind his closest rival, the Sauber of Felipe Nasr, as the McLaren-Honda package proved uncompetitive once more.
Button would have started from the back of the grid anyway, as he is facing a 25-place grid penalty for his engine changes.
The 2009 world champion at least outqualified teammate Fernando Alonso, but thought his lap was good enough for much more.
"That is probably the only positive," said Button of outpacing Alonso. "I actually enjoyed driving it today. All weekend it's been a bit tricky with the rear of the car and entry. But qualifying was much better.
"It's funny, you cross the line and you still think maybe that lap was good enough to be further up. That lap I did was equal to my pole position lap here three years go, so...
"You have to deal with that. It's the same for both of us and the whole team.
"A long way to go before we are competitive, but at least the feeling was good in qualifying and it was enjoyable to drive."
Engine more powerful
Button said the updated Honda engine felt more powerful, but admitted the team was still a long way behind its rivals.
"There's definitely more power with the engine but obviously you always want more than you see. We are still a long way off. At least the car feels nice to drive.
"We have a long way to go before we feel happy with the package that we have."
Alonso, facing a 30-place grid penalty, conceded Spa was always going to be the worst circuit for McLaren.
"We are a second off the anti-penultimate, so that's the position," he said. "We'll just try to learn something tomorrow and finish the race, and see what positives we can extract from the weekend.
"We know it's probably the worst of the calendar, which is why it was decided to change the engines here and start from the back. We knew this would be the anti-circuit for us."