Malaysian GP: McLaren have made progress - Jenson Button

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Malaysian GP: McLaren are slowly improving - Jenson Button

Jenson Button has been encouraged by the progress his McLaren team had made at the Malaysia Grand Prix.

McLaren were more than two seconds off the pace in Australia last weekend but Button qualified eighth at Sepang and was closer to the dry-weather pace.

"The dry pace is promising for us; we should be happy with eighth," he said.

"Sounds strange because it's McLaren but we have to put everything in perspective and we've done a good job this weekend."

Qualifying in Malaysia ended on a damp track and Button was more than three seconds off the pace of Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, who took pole position.

But the McLaren was much more competitive in the dry - Button was 0.927secs off the quickest lap in the dry part of second qualifying.

"I think we've moved forward a lot. Last race I feel we were over 1.5 seconds off the pace, probably quite a bit more than that," said Button. "Here, in qualifying, if it was dry I think we could have been within a second, if not less."

The 2009 champion admitted that the nature of the circuit had an influence in that its smoothness did not exacerbate the car's poor ride but insisted that the car was nevertheless better.

"I can see where I'm going; we're improving. It's one week on from a tough weekend and already we have made some small improvements," Button said.

"The circuit does help with how smooth it is but all in all we should be happy we are moving forwards.

"We've done a great job to improve the car. We're still not quick but we are improving. We are making progress and that's positive."

Button said that the only downside was that the car was now less competitive in wet conditions than it had been in Australia.

Malaysian GP: Sebastian Vettel takes Sepang pole for Red Bull

He said: "It's funny though because these conditions seemed to really work for us until this point. We are more competitive in the dry than we thought initially, still not quick but the guys are doing a good job of getting the best out of the car in the dry, but I couldn't find any grip on the inter.

"I couldn't find a balance and struggled with lack of grip in the rear. But I'll take that any day for a better car in the dry. There's still a long way to go but it's good to see improvement."

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh added: "Clearly we lost our way in the development of this car. F1 is a relentless and unforgiving environment for mistakes. We took too long to realise that.

"We are responding now. Last weekend was incredibly difficult. The car has a long way to go but the encouraging sign is we have made some small incremental improvement, but more important is that they have given us a good direction.

"We know the car is far from optimised, but it has responded to some of those changes."

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