Jenson Button insists that McLaren and Honda are taking big steps towards being more competitive in F1 2015, even if the outside world might not see it.

Despite a pre-season in which McLaren completed fewer miles than anyone other than the absent Manor-Marussia team, and two races that have yet to yield points - although Button did finish eleventh in Melbourne - the Briton maintains that progress is being made, and more rapidly than many may expect.

"It's always tricky when you start off in the winter with not doing much mileage," Button confirmed on the eve of the Chinese Grand Prix, "I think, for everyone, it was a big surprise to see us finish in Melbourne, and the outside world probably didn't think we made a big step from Melbourne to Malaysia, but we did - and it was very, very big. We weren't able to finish the race, but we got a lot of useful information again for another big step forward."

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With McLaren joining Lotus and Manor as the only teams yet to score in 2015, Button is naturally keen to put that right as soon as possible, but acknowledges that it could well be a waiting game as team and engine supplier get their houses in order. Development of the MP4-30 continued between Sepang and Shanghai, and the 2009 world champion is optimistic that it won't be long before the combination is a contender once again.

"We've got to see what we've got here," he conceded, "There's another long straight which makes it a little bit tricky, but we're all working very well together. I feel that we still haven't got the best out of what we have right now so, hopefully, we can do that this weekend - and there's a lot in the pipeline for the future.

"A lot of people have asked me how I'm so positive and how the team are so positive and upbeat and it is because we see a great future. It's just a lot of hard work now, improving, before we can get there."

Although he played down the significance of being in front of new team-mate Fernando Alonso for much of the Sepang weekend, Button insisted that having such a talent in the second car could only help in McLaren's development.

"When you're fighting at the front or you're fighting at the back, I think you probably concentrate more on your performance against the guy that's in the same car," he noted, "For us two to be competitive, like any team-mates in F1, is great. It's important for us to improve and to make big strides forward so, yeah, it's great having such an experienced driver in the other car and hopefully that's going to help us first of all get in to the points and then hopefully challenge for something better in the future."