Jenson Button says he expects the majority of cars to go to the grid in Bahrain with a similar game plan for round four of the 2013 F1 world championship.
The Briton has endured a tough start to the year, as McLaren
continues to chase the handling of its new MP4-28, but salvaged a fifth-place finish last time out in China as opting not to set a competitive qualifying time and start the race on the harder of the two Pirelli tyre options played out in his favour.
“I think we've been improving since the first race - every race we have made improvements and I think maybe these circuits suit the car a little bit more in terms of where we have to put the … set-up - but to finish fifth at the last race and beat some very quick cars, we had to try something different,” the 2009 world champion commented, “We beat every single car on the grid, at least one of the drivers, which is positive.
“P5 is not where we want to be, but I think we have to take a lot from last weekend. Yes, we had to try a different strategy, we had to try and do a two-stop. We felt that it was the quickest way for us to the end of the race, but it was very tricky to make it work because of the stint lengths that you needed. If you didn't make the stint length, you dropped into a three-stop race. By that point, you're pretty much out of the points, so we had to make it work.
“A lot went into the strategy and trying to understand what we have to do with tyres and the lap time we have to do. It was a tricky weekend but, in the end, a good result we should be very happy with.
“Here [in Bahrain], I think we have to wait and see. It's tough on tyres, it's hot, it's tough on the cars in terms of cooling, so we have to see, first of all, what downforce people are running and how the degradation is, to see what we do with the car. I think it's probably more likely that everyone's going to be running the same sort of strategy but we have to wait and see.”
Despite admitting that he is now getting bored of answering questions about this year's tyres, Button conceded that the racing has been 'fun', even if most of that enjoyment has been derived by his rivals.
“We're never going to be happy with everything in this sport, but I think the racing has been good fun,” he insisted, “I was on the receiving end of most of it at the last race because, obviously, doing less stops, you're running old tyres most of the time, so there's people overtaking you most of the time. So it's not the enjoyable part of it for me, but I think, if you were doing a three-stop strategy at the last race, it was a fun race.
“They seemed like they were able to push pretty hard. In the past, we had tyres that would last the whole race and there wasn't any overtaking, so it's very difficult to get the correct balance. But we're having two or three stops [now], which I think is what the idea was for racing in 2013. There are a lot of teams fighting at the front, [and] I think F1's great at the moment. I'm really enjoying racing.”