Jenson Button says his early experiences with McLaren have left him more upbeat about successfully defending his title than if he had remained at Brawn GP.
The World Champion has been on the receiving end of criticism about opting to go up against Lewis Hamilton at McLaren rather than stay on with the outfit that took him to the crown in 2009, but he is totally convinced he has done the right thing.
"If I was at Brawn still, I would go into the season positive, but not as positive as I am now," Button said at the AUTOSPORT International Show in Birmingham, England. "I have been working very, very hard all winter on many, many things to do with fitness, mental attitude – and on Jan. 1, I started working on being a McLaren driver.
"It means a lot to me because my first drive in an F1 car was in a McLaren young driver test after winning the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award in 1999. I have spent some time at the factory in the simulator, with the engineers and it is going very well. The two guys I have got looking after me, who are working with me, have been great. They know this is a difficult switch for me, a difficult change, but they have been very good. They are very hungry to succeed this year, which is exactly what I am. It is a good partnership."
Rather than be fazed by the prospect of going head to head with Hamilton at McLaren, Button has said that it has actually served to fire him up – and thinks the pair can drive each other on to achieve great things.
"I don't know who will build the best car this year, but we will work as hard as we can. I am really looking forward to the partnership with Lewis. That is the truth, from the bottom of my heart. We can work very well together and we can, as a team, fight for the World Championship together. And us two together is a much stronger team than us in separate teams. When we get to the end of the year we will see [where we finished]. But, at the moment, we will work together and there is no reason to say I am going to beat him, or he is going to beat me.
"I am sure everyone is opinionated about it, but nobody knows until the last race finishes. We are going to work together and we are hopefully going to do a good job for the British fans."
Speaking about the chances of beating Michael Schumacher, the man who replaces him at Brawn/Mercedes GP, he said: "A few people have said he is 41 years old, is he too old to be racing in F1 and has he lost it? I don't think so. He has won more World Championships than anyone. He will be competitive. He is not a silly guy. He won't be coming back to F1 to be slow. He is going to be competitive and he will be ready for the first race. And I hope so. It will be great if Michael is fighting it out at the front.
"It is really good for F1, and it will bring a few fans back that maybe left when Michael did. And it is made for the best season in F1 I think ever. I really do think that. It is going to be such a competitive season.
"You have got four World Champions; one guy who missed out by one point and a few very, very talented people. It is exciting. New teams. New drivers. It is great."