Jenson Button fears Red Bull has recaptured its qualifying superiority and will be impossible to beat to Korean Grand Prix pole.
Last year, Red Bull was only beaten to a single pole position all season – ironically in Korea, where it was beaten by McLaren. That followed a 2010 campaign in which Red Bull started first in 15 out of 19 races.
Red Bull only has five poles to its name so far in 2012, but monopolized the front row in Japan last weekend. With Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber first and second in Friday practice in Korea, Button thinks the champion team is back to its best over a single lap.
"They've got that four tenths again in practice. But I think they're going to be very, very difficult to beat in qualifying," said Button. "They seem to have that strength back.
"Our race pace today seemed to be competitive, but over one lap we're still lacking so it's an area we need to work on."
McLaren did not manage a podium finish at Suzuka, as Button and Lewis Hamilton took fourth and fifth. But Button is sure the Japan result was deceptive, while acknowledging that Red Bull's Suzuka form was ominous.
"We were surprised by the Red Bull's pace in Suzuka," he said. "All the other cars around us, I don't think they were any quicker, they just did a better job in the race and we made it difficult for ourselves by starting further back."