Jenson Button says McLaren's strong form in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix was unexpected, even after a promising winter of testing.
The Briton took a commanding third win in Melbourne to start the 2012 season in perfect fashion, after teammate Lewis Hamilton had secured pole position on Saturday. Although McLaren expected a competitive start to the year following a strong pre-season, Button admitted he was not expecting such dominance.
"After the race, people asked me if we'd expected to demonstrate the pace that we did in Australia, and I tell them that it was unexpected," said Button. "Of course, we'd done our sums after winter testing, but you can never be certain whether another team is running with high fuel or hiding their true pace. So to come away from race one with such a positive result – McLaren took pole, fastest lap and the victory – is a huge relief for the organization.
The Briton, who beat World Champion Sebastian Vettel to first place in Australia, said McLaren's form has been a big boost for the team, something that will make them motivated to push even harder.
"It's also incredibly motivating: we know we have a great car but we're not going to sit still with it," he said. "We have ambitious plans to develop the car and I know that everybody back at the factory is working hard to bring new components to the track, and that all our mechanics and engineers are flat-out to ensure that we maximize the package that we have this weekend.
"I think everybody knows that we are a relentless organization; we can develop a car as well – if not better than – any other team. The difference this year is that we've started with a winning package; the challenge will be to maintain that, and I know that's something we're all really looking forward to doing."
The McLaren driver is also confident of fighting for victory again in Malaysia this weekend, although he is expecting rivals to be a bigger threat.
"I think the race showed that there are several top teams in Formula 1, and I think we can expect them to be fighting for victory in Malaysia. Both Red Bull drivers were very quick in the race, and I think we can expect further strong challenges from Mercedes and Lotus this weekend.
"Of course, we're not relaxing – and we go to Malaysia ready for a strong fight."