Despite ending his day down in 17th position on the Belgian Grand Prix timesheets after free practice, Jenson Button insists the much vaunted Honda engine upgrade is still an improvement on its predecessor.

Following a concerted effort over the summer break to bring its maligned power unit up to speed, Honda is debuting its modified engine at Spa-Francorchamps in an effort to spur the McLaren team to challenge for the points more regularly.

However, though it was a welcome trouble-free day for both Button and team-mate Fernando Alonso, it was more disappointing in terms of raw pace as they ended FP2 17th and 18th respectively.

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Even so, Button says the engine feels more powerful and though it is difficult to know more at this stage, he is confident it is indeed an improvement.

"I think we got a little bit more power, but I don't know how much yet," he said. "They're still going through the data and it's always tricky here, knowing what downforce level to run. I think I'm out of bed a little bit on that one but hopefully we can put that right tomorrow and we can be a little more competitive.

"This is a new engine, it's a fresh engine, it's a different spec and it's an improvement, but you don't know how much until you look at the data and there's so much data, it's so complex with F1 cars these days that'll it take time for us to understand where we are."

Regardless of pace ahead of qualifying, Button and Alonso are destined to start at the back of the grid due to a raft of power unit component changes amounting to 25 and 30 grid positions penalties altogether.