Jenson Button has warned Red Bull that it shouldn't under-estimate McLaren's challenge in this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, even though the Suzuka circuit is one that is likely to suit the RB7.
Button goes into the event as the only man who can now deny Sebastian Vettel a second-straight title, although the German needs to pick up just one point from the final five races in order to become a double champion.
While Vettel is highly likely to pick up the required point in this weekend's race, Button insisted that he would be doing his best to beat the German on track and said the challenge of McLaren shouldn't be under estimated by anyone.
“In the last few races, I think we've shown that we have extremely good pace and that we've been the team most able to take the fight to Red Bull,” he said. “On paper, I think it's a circuit that will suit the Red Bulls, particularly in the high-speed sweeps that make up the first sector of the track, but I certainly don't think people should under-estimate our package.
“We showed at Spa that we have a car that's very effective in high-speed corners. We've also improved our straightline speed and we have a more efficient rear-wing for qualifying, so I think we're feeling positive about the weekend.”
The race weekend – coming after the devastating earthquake back in March - will be particularly poignant for Button, who has strong links with Japan following his time with Honda, and he said he was hopeful that F1 could go some way towards helping those who had been affected.
“I consider Japan my second home – it's a place that's very close to my heart, and, obviously, it's going to be a very emotional experience for me to be racing in Japan for the first time since the events of last March,” he said. “I'm very proud that the Formula 1 world championship will put Japan on the world's sporting stage next weekend: while the country is still collectively rebuilding itself, I'm deeply aware that sport can play a significant role in helping to restore hope and normality to communities that were torn apart by the earthquake and tsunami.
“For everyone who follows Formula 1, I hope we can put on a great race to bring further strength to the people of Japan. And to everyone in Japan, I say: ganbatte