Jenson Button has hailed the spirit of his McLaren-Mercedes team after a successful third day of F1 testing at Bahrain provided further evidence that the new MP4-29 will start the new season as a front-running package.
Taking over driving duties from new team-mate Kevin Magnussen, who set the fastest time of the opening two days of testing at Sakhir, Button ended day three second quickest behind Lewis Hamilton after completing 103 laps, including a full race simulation.
On a day when Renault continued to struggle with the speed and durability of its engine, while Button concedes his car isn't as fast as Hamilton's pace-setting Mercedes, the 2009 champion was nonetheless pleased to get an edge on his rivals with a full day of trouble-free mileage.
“It's good to get some laps in the car, 103 laps, with no major issues today at all,” he said. “We did a race distance in the afternoon which was nice to do so early on in testing.
“We know we are not the quickest right now, but we're not slow either. We can get a lot of laps out of the car. It's not coming into the pits and going back out, we can do a race distance, which is promising.
"There's a lot of fine-tuning that's needed for everyone. I think for most people it's about being able to get the car to try a race distance, that's the biggest issue."
With the new regulations arriving on the back of a dismal 2013 season during which McLaren failed to secure a single podium for the first time in 34 years, Button is pleased to see the positive start to testing has reignited the 'buzz' within the team.
“The guys have done a fantastic job. These guys don't just have a job at McLaren, they are here to race and they will do anything to win grands prix. It's good to see the buzz is back in McLaren because we were struggling a bit last year.”
Meanwhile, it was confirmed today that Button is engaged to his long-term girlfriend Jessica Michibata