Jenson Button has said he hopes that McLaren can follow the lead of Ferrari in turning its car into a race winner on the back of a difficult start to the 2013 F1 season.

Twelve months ago, Ferrari headed into the opening round of the season with a car that was off the pace after a difficult pre-season programme, although the team was still able to fight its way into contention for the title - with Fernando Alonso only missing out on honours in the season finale in Brazil.

This time around, it is McLaren seemingly playing catch-up after both Button and Sergio Perez were off the pace in Melbourne, with Button trailing in ninth and Perez failing to score in eleventh.

Speaking ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang this weekend, Button said McLaren could take heart from the way Ferrari had responded to its issues and vowed that the Woking-based team would do what it could to return to form.

"Fernando was one and a half seconds off the pace - of us at the start of the season - and almost won the title," he told Sporting Life. "So yes, it is possible for a front-running team to make up the deficit. If it's the same as their situation, I don't know.

"There are always strengths and weaknesses, and then it's about how many of each, but it's not the place we'd like to be at the start of a year. For us, a lot has changed over the winter with the car, and for most of the teams that's not been the case. They have developed what they had last season. We just took a very different approach.

"At this moment in time, obviously we're not as happy as we were hoping to be, but it's only the first race and there's so much we can achieve."

Expanding on his thoughts in McLaren's Malaysian GP preview, Button said he wasn't getting his hopes up about what could be achieved on track at Sepang this weekend, although he was quick to point out that the weather could lead to a surprise when it comes to the result - as was the case last year in a rain-affected race.

"For this weekend, I don't think we can expect an improvement in our fortunes, but the thing about Malaysia is that it can be so unpredictable - particularly with the later start time on Sunday afternoon, which tends to see late-afternoon showers fall," he said. "We saw that last year, when Fernando won, and we know that the unpredictable weather can make it a lottery for everyone.

"That's something that could play into our hands - I do enjoy driving in changeable conditions, and would love the challenge of being able to run competitively in a car that we all know is not quite capable of challenging for victories yet."