Jenson Button says he would rather be last in a car with potential than ninth or tenth in a car that has reached its maximum as he and McLaren-Honda team-mate Kevin Magnussen prepare to start the opening round of the 2015 F1 season from the final row of the grid.

McLaren's dismal start to the year came to a very public head during qualifying as both Button and Magnussen struggled to extract single lap pace from the MP4-30, the pair proving almost three seconds off the leading pace in Q1 on soft tyres.

Leaving them bottom of the timesheets and with Manor F1 out of the event after failing to qualify, it means both Button and Magnussen occupy the 17th and 18th on the grid - the ninth and final row.

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Despite this, Button says he is refusing to be downbeat about the poor result, maintaining he is in the project for the long-term and is confident it will yield results in the future.

"Well I didn't actually have expectations for the first race," he said. "I was thinking long term. We're all thinking long term. It's unfair for us to all sit here now and be harsh on everyone because this is a massive learning curve for us.

"This could be something great in the future, and that's what we need in the sport, someone to challenge those Mercedes out front, and I really do think this is the team that can do that.

"Would I rather be sat here qualifying ninth or 10th knowing we had extracted everything from the car with a power unit that has been racing? No.

"I'd rather be where we are knowing we can mould this into something very special, and I think that can happen.

Going forward, Button insists the potential of the car remains good, whilst its top speeds - downforce notwithstanding - are less than 2kph down on the next slowest ahead, Max Verstappen's Renault-powered Toro Rosso.

"The car to drive is good, the basic car is good, but we need a lot more work, a lot more time in setting up the car and a lot more in lots of different areas. It's tough times now and it's going to be for many weeks, but that is what is going to make us stronger in the future and hopefully build us into a winning team. This I think will be a very important car for McLaren in the future and Honda in terms of direction."