McLaren sporting director Sam Michael has backed Jenson Button to bounce back from his current run of poor form and display the kind of performance saw him secure victory in the season-opener in Australia back in March.
The McLaren driver followed up his win in Melbourne with second place in China the following month but has then hit a slump in form that has seen him score just two points in the last four races – dropping him down to eighth in the championship standings as a result.
While team-mate Lewis Hamilton secured his first win of 2012 last time out in Canada, Button trailed in down in 16th place but Michael said McLaren was confident that the 2009 title winner would be stronger this weekend in Valencia.
“With Jenson in Canada, if you go back to the start of the weekend we had quite a few problems with his gearbox on Friday and he lost a lot of track time because of that,” he told Sky Sports
. “From that point on, we tried a few different things with his car set-up to try to explore different areas, and in hindsight we probably shouldn't have done that. The wear profile on his tyres was extremely different to what Lewis had and there are certain reasons for that which we believe we've understood and can easily put right for Valencia.
"Jenson is clearly a fast driver. If you look at the lap-times difference between Jenson and Lewis in Montreal, that is not the difference between those two drivers because it's just not like that. Look at the way Jenson dominated the grand prix in Australia, he's clearly a driver who knows how to go quickly."
Michael added that Button was still very much in contention for honours this season despite his struggles and admitted that Button was putting the pressure on himself to get results.
"One of the things you realise from working with Jenson is that he copes with pressure very well and he doesn't show it,” he said. “He has a very good poker face and, even under the current situation where he feels under pressure, he doesn't let that show. That's how he's always been - he's been like that whether he's winning or whether he's struggling. At the moment, I think he's playing on that and I think it's a very useful characteristic to have in someone. It's one of his strengths and he's got a lot of confidence in his ability - he's not a World Champion for nothing. He's still very much in the title hunt and he knows that."