Jenson Button believes McLaren will be even closer to pacesetters Red Bull Racing in China this weekend, and thinks it could be on course for a "fun" race if he and Lewis Hamilton can get a clean start against Sebastian Vettel.
After just missing out in the battle for pole position and the race win in Malaysia, McLaren has introduced a series of updates,and will re-evaluate a new floor and exhaust configuration in Shanghai this weekend. As well as the lap time benefit that will come from those developments, Button believes his McLaren team still has plenty of time to come from simply better understanding how to get the most out of its car, having only run it in its current configuration since Australia.
"In terms of fine-tuning the car, hopefully we will get a bit closer this weekend," said the McLaren driver. "When we were testing in Malaysia we were making changes and it was making a massive difference in terms of lap time and consistency.
"We know where we should be, but with such different circuits and different circumstances, temperatures and tires, there are areas we haven't been to yet with the car. So we have a few ideas of the direction we need to take for this race and we have made those on my comments after the race.
"I am looking forward to getting out there and driving the car. There were a few areas where I wasn't happy with it but hopefully we have sorted it out now."
Button believes that McLaren's fortunes will also be helped with lower degradation predicted from the tires.
"It is going to be a bit cooler here, so the degradation is going to be less," he said. "It is still going to be there though, especially with traction, but the high-speed corners won't be such an issue.
"I think we probably can make more headway with Red Bull Racing, because of not really knowing completely our car and not having the perfect setup over the last couple of races. We have some updates here. I don't know if Red Bull Racing has, it is difficult to know, but I think you will also see a couple of other teams quick here. The Ferrari is going to be competitive here and the Renault will be, it has very good straight-line speed."
Button also reckons that key to taking the fight to championship leader Vettel will be in putting pressure on the German from the start of the race.
"Seb is very quick on the first couple of laps in the race, probably because he is in free air and he can push the tire," he said. "He doesn't damage it because he has maximum downforce.
"I finished three seconds behind him, but he definitely slowed down at the end. However, he didn't do that every lap I was behind him and our pace was quite similar. So if we get a nice clean race start then I think we can have a fun race and the pace will be quite similar."