Jenson Button is playing down the possibility of improved lap times at the Chinese Grand Prix due to the challenges the circuit possesses on his team's Honda power unit.

The McLaren-Honda has been trailing the rest of the Formula 1 field in the opening two rounds of the new season but the team is confident on closing the gap to its rivals. The former F1 champion is hopeful to build on the car's pace from the Malaysian Grand Prix, despite both McLaren cars failing to finish in Sepang.

"It's a pity we didn't finish the race in Malaysia," Button said. "We'd made solid progress up until that point in the weekend, and it would have been a fantastic boost to get a car home in amongst some of the cars in the midfield pack."

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Button feels the layout of the Shanghai International Circuit will make life difficult for the Honda hybrid power unit and doesn't expect to seen a significant improvement in lap times.

"China's two long straights - each preceded by slow to medium-speed corners - will place extra emphasis on the power unit," Button explained. "And there is a feeling that the expected cooler weather will make it harder to generate tyre temperature, which could mean that any progress we make doesn't necessarily translate to a lap time benefit."

McLaren's well-documented pre-season troubles have continued into the 2015 season, with the team managing just one GP finish to its name from the first two rounds when Button came home in 11th at the Australian Grand Prix.

The British driver remains optimistic that his team can return to challenging the rest of the pack but is already looking to future races rather than this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix.

"But there is definitely progress being made, and it's great to be able to play a role in helping move the whole team forwards. It'll be fascinating to see how much change we can effect over the forthcoming races."