Jenson Button believes that McLaren ought to be content with that it has achieved so far in 2011, and set its sights on tackling the problem of Sebastian Vettel when F1 returns to the heart of its season in Europe.
The Briton posted his best qualifying result of the season so far with second place behind Vettel, but was fully seven-tenths shy of the Red Bull driver, and admitted that his dream of pole position was blown out of the water when the reigning world champion produced the quickest-ever lap of the Shanghai International Circuit. Despite the gap, however, Button insisted that there was still reason for McLaren to be positive, particularly given its pre-season woes.
"There are 24 of us on the grid and there's only one person that's ever going to be completely fulfilled with their race result and that's the way F1 is - it's all about winning," the 31-year old pointed out, "I've been racing in F1 for twelve years and more often than not there's a guy up the front – he was normally wearing red - but we are in a better position than anyone else on the grid to challenge the Red Bulls, so we should be happy with that and what we've achieved so far this year.
"It's a very competitive sport and, if you look at the last five years, there's been a different world champion every year. We've got to try and make sure that [Vettel] doesn't walk away with it this year. But it's not depressing because you work as a team, you win as team, you lose as a team and we are just going to fight as hard as we can, to get everything out of this car and more and really take the fight to Red Bull. It is tough at the moment but, it's three races in, there's another 17 races to go.
"This is a team that will never give up. They've fought for so many world championships and they have the resources, they have the manpower and they have the passion to really fight for this and they will do everything they can to make sure that we catch Red Bull sooner rather than later."
Despite the gap between the top two teams in qualifying, however, Button remained confident that he and team-mate Lewis Hamilton could take the fight to Vettel on race day, based on what Hamilton had shown in the early stages of both the Australian and Malaysian rounds.
"We don't really know what his pace in the race is going to be like - if he's a second quicker, it's definitely not possible to race with him, whereas if he's four tenths quicker, and then we have KERS, it's possible," the 2009 world champion mused, "We've got to see where we stand tomorrow. If you're talking about the start, there's a very short period before turn one, it's going to be very difficult to get past, even with KERS if Sebastian doesn't run it, which I'm sure they will.
"But, during the race, I think they're quick anyway. If you look at Malaysia, a lot of the race he didn't use KERS and his pace was still very good, but we are in a good pace for the race and I look forward to it around here. It is always a fun place to race."