Jenson Button believes the switch to Pirelli tires in Formula 1 will play into his hands this year, sensing that the new rubber suits his driving style well.
The 2009 World Champion has readily admitted that his qualifying form last year suffered because he could not extract the most out of Bridgestone rubber, but he is already sensing a much-improved situation on the tire front for 2011.
"I like the feeling of the tire," said Button after his first day of testing Pirelli's tires at Valencia on Thursday. "It has a stable rear when you enter high-speed corners, you have a stable rear when you brake for low-speed corners, and that is something that I really do need with the car. I am happy with that step.
"There are areas where it is weaker than previous tires, but that is the way it is built. You just change the balance of the car to suit that. There will be degradation on the soft tire and you do have to look after it, but there always has to be a balance. You want to be quick over one lap and you want to be quick over a long run, so there is always a bit of a compromise. It is whether you can get the compromise right or not."
Having targeted a step forward with his qualifying performance for 2011, Button thinks that the Pirelli characteristics are the first step in helping him achieve his ambition.
"The tires help me in that area, that is one thing definitely," he said. "And we are doing a lot of work on the car still. It does take a little bit of time but we are working on a certain area that I think will really help me and give me confidence in the car.
"In quite a few races last year, I wasn't happy with my qualifying performance, but in the races we were very competitive. It is an area I need to work on, but all we can do off the circuit is try and improve areas that I think will help me.
"One area I think is that with Pirelli we have a tire that maybe suits me more than the previous tire we had. We have to wait and see, but I think that may be the case. I also think the work we are doing at the factory is positive."
Although the high tire degradation experienced on the soft tires has been one of the themes of the Valencia test, Button sees no reason to be concerned – and in fact thinks that characteristics is exactly what F1 needs.
"The tire itself is obviously very different to the Bridgestone," he said. "I don't mean different in a bad way, it is just a different tire to drive.
"Over one lap it felt very strong and on a longer run with the super-soft tire you get degradation quite a bit. But that is what we sort of expected and that is what the fans probably want – two different tires in a race that really stand out to be different. I think we will have that this year."