Jenson Button is confident that McLaren still has the outright pace to match title rivals Red Bull and Ferrari in the final races, even though it has been beaten by them in the past two rounds.
McLaren did not manage to get a driver on the podium in Singapore or Japan, but Button took solace from the fact that he came within 0.055sec of setting the fastest race lap, which ultimately went to Red Bull's Mark Webber.
"I know I was running fresher options while everyone was on the prime, which is a factor – but nonetheless, you race with what you've got, and we were able to make the car work extremely well throughout the last part of the race," said Button. "If we'd gotten everything right in qualifying, then things would probably have been a little better for the race. But the car felt great to drive, you could take it to the limit, lean on it, and it would stay planted. And that's encouraging for where we want to be in the final three races, where I believe we'll be more of a challenge at the front."
Finishing fourth at Suzuka has left reigning champion Button 31 points behind leader Webber in the standings. He is not writing off his chances of a successful title defense yet, but feels he can take a "nothing to lose" approach to the final rounds and race without pressure.
"At this time of the season, if you're ahead on points then you can't do anything risky, but if you're behind, then you've got more confidence to be aggressive, because you've got less to lose," Button said. "For me, it's a very different situation compared to where I was last year, and I'm actually looking forward to taking the fight to the leaders, because I've got nothing to lose by doing that.
"If it doesn't come off, at least I'll know that I'll have given it everything. And luck has a habit of going in cycles – our team hasn't had the greatest of fortunes recently, so who knows what will happen at the next race? It could all turn around."