Jenson Button believes the development race will start to have an influence this weekend in Malaysia and he is confident that McLaren will be able to deliver in this area during F1 2010 – just like that did last year.
Button, who of course won the last event in Australia following an inspired early switch from intermediates to slicks, added that the way the Woking-based outfit bounced back in 2009 was one of the main reasons he opted to join the team following his championship winning year with Brawn GP, now Mercedes.
"We're only two races in, but I think the development race will already be starting to have an influence on performance. It's the rate of improvement that will most influence the battle at the front," he stated. "And I'm confident we can deliver in this area: it was something I watched the team doing throughout 2009, and it was one of the key reasons for deciding to hold talks with the team. I'm convinced we have the firepower to develop faster than our key rivals."
Despite his success at Albert Park though, the 2009 World champion is slightly cagey about his prospects for the third round on the F1 2010 schedule. Indeed while he thinks the Sepang International Circuit will not play to the strengths of the MP4-25, he still adds that they should be able to challenge the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.
"It was a tremendous achievement to score our first win of the season in Melbourne last week, and it's given every single member of the team even greater enthusiasm for this weekend," Button continued. "Even so though, I think we travel to Sepang mindful that the characteristics of the circuit probably won't suit our car as well as it will suit some of the others – but I'm confident that, once again, we'll be fighting at or near the front.
"Sepang is an awesome circuit, one that I love driving, and I think that I'll be able to further develop and improve my relationship with the car here. It's a circuit that not only requires smooth and precise input, but it also needs real commitment through some of the high-speed stuff. I think it's a circuit that every driver loves."
McLaren boss, Martin Whitmarsh meanwhile was delighted with Button's form – and that of his team-mate, Lewis Hamilton - at Albert Park and he wants to see them both deliver again this Sunday.
"Every single member of this team worked tirelessly to put us in a position to win the Australian Grand Prix – and we were tremendously buoyed by both Jenson and Lewis's incredible performances. As a result, we travel to Malaysia keen to maintain the level of competitiveness we demonstrated in Melbourne," he added.
"We're under no illusions that the regular pacesetters will once again be up at the front, but I think we've now shown that we're a match for the competition – particularly with our race pace, which is up there with the very best.
"On a broader note, it was very satisfying to see F1 deliver such an invigorating and exciting race in Melbourne, and I hope that this weekend's race can continue that trend. It's a circuit that delivers natural spectacle and is one of the best places in the world for watching grand prix cars at high-speed. It looks like we have all the ingredients for a classic season," he concluded.