Jenson Button insists that McLaren's double podium finish in the F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi is a sign that the team has the 'momentum and fighting spirit' needed to fight back into championship contention in 2011.
Button clinched third in the final race of the year behind newly crowned champion Sebastian Vettel and team-mate Lewis Hamilton as McLaren wrapped up second in the constructors' championship behind Red Bull.
With Button confident that McLaren had taken a step forward in Abu Dhabi, albeit too late to affect the championship battle, the outgoing champion insisted that the team was in a good position going into the winter break.
“To qualify fourth, race hard, run at the front and finish on the podium in the final race of the season not only demonstrates a few things to me personally, but it also shows that, as a team, we have the momentum and fighting spirit to take us into the winter feeling very positive,” he said. "On a personal level, it was a real positive to qualify in the top four – it showed that, with a car in which I feel comfortable, we can crack qualifying. In fact, we made a very good step in general with that process over the weekend, which leaves me feeling encouraged for more in 2011.
"The car was fantastic all race. We made quite a bold decision to run long in the first stint, but it definitely worked for me. It would have been nice to have bowed out with another victory, but the result was good for the team in general: we managed to get some new parts working properly and they, in turn, helped us to secure second in the constructors' championship."
Admitting that his first year as part of the McLaren team had been 'fantastic', Button insisted his focus has already turned to next season with his main aim being to improve his performance in qualifying.
“This year, I think I've had some very strong Sunday afternoons, but I probably haven't always made life as easy as I would like on Saturdays,” he said, “and we know how crucial that is in modern Formula 1 - if I can get qualifying sorted, then I think we can have an even stronger season next year.
"Over the winter, it will be a case of sitting down with my engineers, looking at how we can move the car a little bit closer to me when it's on low-fuel and how we can just extract that final tenth from it during Q3.
"That's the great thing about the winter: after such a long and intense season, it offers you the opportunity to have a closer look at everything away from the intensity of a fortnightly race schedule."