Jenson Button reckons that this weekend's Russian Grand Prix can differ from previous versions following its date change, but admits that he is not expecting the amount of overtaking seen two weeks ago in China.
The first two races at Sochi Autodrom, both won by Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, were largely based around a single stop for tyres, but Button believes that the switch from October to April will have an impact on strategy – and that, in turn, could allow for more overtaking, albeit not on the same scale as the 150+ passes seen at Shanghai International Circuit a fortnight ago.
Six months ago, the Briton's McLaren team-mate, Fernando Alonso, managed to stretch a set of the Pirelli supersoft tyres to fully 40 of the race's 53 laps but, despite the red-ringed rubber again being on offer to driver this weekend, Button does not believe that will be a workable strategy.
“None of us are muppets here, we know what the race is going to throw at us!” he smiled, “It's not going to be like last year - with the time of the year and the circuit temperature, it's 20°C hotter than last year, so it's not going to be as easy to do a one stop, I don't think.
“It's going to mix it up, which is great. I don't think every race is going to be like Shanghai - I wish it was, but I don't think it will be, but I still think this race will be an interesting race.”
McLaren remains last of the teams to have scored in the three races so far this season – ironically, its single point came courtesy of Alonso replacement Stoffel Vandoorne in Bahrain – and Button admits that the Woking team, and engine partner Honda, still have work to do to catch up with the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes.
“It's very difficult to know what 'nearly' means,” he confessed when it was put to him that Honda thinks its powerplant is 'nearly there', “I think we're very happy with the way the deployment is this year, compared to last year. We're a lot closer to the other manufacturers, which is great, but, in terms of outright power, I don't know. I don't think anyone really knows, but we know there is still a lot of work to do and that's the aim.
“I think the last race, [was] very difficult for a driver, because you come home twelfth and 13th and it's not where you want to be – but, if you look at it compared to last year, every car finished in China, so it's a big step forward to last year there.
“In terms of where I think we are, yeah, our qualifying pace has been reasonable, but I still don't think we have shown our true potential in qualifying either. We have been close to Q3, but circuits like this don't really help us either. I think, when we get back to Europe, it should be easier to show our pace in qualifying – and, hopefully, in the race.
“It's moving forward, but you always want more, you always want more [as] F1 is so competitive right now. For us, I feel that having something new coming every race - both aerodynamically and also with the power unit - it's moving in the right direction, but we always want more. I think when we start scoring points on a regular basis, we'll be a lot happier - but that hasn't happened.”