A new series of aerodynamic upgrades have allowed McLaren to make a "definite step forward," according to an upbeat Jenson Button, as the team aims to kick off its championship campaign strongly with the promising new MP4-27.
Despite a hydraulic problem limiting the Briton to just 44 laps running in the car fitted with upgrades on his final day of preseason testing ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, Button declared himself comfortable with the McLaren he takes into the season opener in two weeks' time.
"It worked out well – the laps I actually ran in it," he said afterward. "Immediately when we put the upgrades on it felt much better. There were some areas where we were lacking in the car, but we knew it would become better when we put the updates on."
Button's program was disrupted through the morning with the hydraulic issues, which hindered his ability to fully explore the new package: "I did two runs but both were difficult because we had issues with the hydraulics, but we knew we had to get some running in so we could collect data for the new package. Then we had two hours-plus of downtime. So we lost a good part of the day when there was a good temperature and no wind. After lunch we went out and did some short runs, basically comparing tyres and the car felt good. We were just about to get into the setup work and then it started raining. But it's a definite step forward.
"It's great the upgrade we got today, but we weren't able to progress with it and get a perfect setup. Hopefully tomorrow Lewis [Hamilton] can have a nice, clean day and we can progress with it because there's still more to come. The feeling is positive though."
Button added that in spite of the positive feedback about the new package, it was still too difficult to tell whether it was enough to make the MP4-27 a Red Bull beater in the early stages of the season.
"The good thing is that it gives us what we expected," he said. "The car is feeling good. Whether we're fastest, second fastest, not fast, I don't know. But it feels we've made a good step.
"I'm reasonably happy with what we have going to the first race. I don't know where we are, but I'm feeling comfortable. Look at the times and a few people stand out as impressive. One is [Sergio] Perez because he did his time on softs, and we noticed that with [Kamui] Kobayashi at the last test – most people do theirs on super-softs. [Sauber] have done a good job. Nice to see the smaller teams competitive, but hopefully not too competitive.
"The Red Bull, in my opinion, was heavy on fuel today. They made some upgrades today that they ran. Perhaps they don't want to show their hand, so they're running [more] fuel. We don't know how much, so why guess? Let's just focus on what we're doing."