Jenson Button has praised McLaren for the gamble it took ahead of the F1 season in an effort to turn around its fortunes with the new MP4-26.
The team endured a troubled pre-season testing programme as the car struggled for reliability or speed, with the decision to taken to drop a number of upgrades ahead of the new season as the team focused on improving the base package it had already.
That decision had paid dividends with McLaren currently second to Red Bull in the constructors title race while Lewis Hamilton and Button hold second and third in the drivers' standings behind Sebastian Vettel.
"It's been an incredible journey,” Button reflected. “Really, we didn't have a great winter testing. It wasn't that the car wasn't quick, it was more that we couldn't make it reliable enough to develop it properly.
"It was a brave decision to drop a lot of the new components so close to the start of the season, and it massively delivered for us. As soon as we got to Australia, we knew we had a quick car, and we just started to push hard from there.
"I think we got some good results in Australia. We were even stronger in Malaysia, and we were finally able to put it together in China this weekend. Sure, it's a little disappointing to have a quick car and to lose out on a few opportunities. I took it on the chin in Melbourne, but it was disappointing that I just couldn't get the pace out of the car in China. That's something we'll be looking at next week.
"But, for us, we should be really pleased with the turnaround. We've completed six race distances, which is incredible. Don't forget, we're still learning about this car, and some of the lessons we've learned on the road will be put to better use once we get back into Europe.”
Button added that one job McLaren now faces is to fully come to terms with the new regulations in place for 2011, with the Pirelli tyres in particular being one focus of attention.
"I think all the teams are learning about this new style of racing in 2011,” he said. “I think it'll get more straightforward as we start to see more of a convergence of strategies and ideas over the next couple of races.
"Obviously, it's the tyres that everyone needs to get a better handle on. I think all the teams will be looking closely at the most successful strategies and also at what didn't particularly work. I had a really strong final stint on the Primes in Malaysia, but in China I just couldn't get the rear end to work. I'm sure we can start to understand why and that's definitely something we'll be looking into at next week's technical review.
"Hopefully, we can head into Turkey with an even stronger package and with some of our weak spots improved and our strengths increased."