McLaren will be able to challenge Red Bull Racing and Ferrari in the fight for victory in this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, reckons World Champion Jenson Button.
Although the Briton and teammate Lewis Hamilton were unable to threaten the pace-setters in the season opener in Bahrain, Button thinks the nature of the Albert Park circuit should help lift his team's performance this time out.
"The biggest threat this weekend? You'd have to say the Red Bulls, and the Ferraris, they were so quick in Bahrain," he said in Melbourne on Tuesday. "I think we will be a lot closer here, this circuit should suit us quite well. Lewis has had a good time here before and I have, it's treating us well this circuit so hopefully we can get a good result."
When asked to explain why he was optimistic about McLaren doing better, Button said: "Because I know it will. This circuit is a low-downforce circuit and that should suit us reasonably well, so I am excited about racing here. I think we can have a much better race. I am excited, and if I didn't think the car was good I wouldn't be."
Button also believes that local hero Mark Webber will put on a better show this weekend than he did in Bahrain, when a mistake in qualifying effectively quashed his chances of fighting for the podium.
"I think he will be quick here," said Button. "I don't think you saw the best of Mark in Bahrain. I think he will be more competitive here in front of the home crowd, so hopefully for him he will have a good weekend – for me I hope he doesn't!
"It's competitive, and I think the first race for him wasn't that great, but I think he will be quick here. He is quick and he is dedicated and that is the thing about Mark – he is very focused."