Jenson Button still thinks McLaren can have a say in 2013 World Championship fight
Briton expecting another step forward with MP4-28 in China
Last Updated: 03/04/13 10:23am
After the first two races the 2009 World Champion is already 38 points behind reigning title winner Sebastian Vettel after picking up just a solitary ninth-place finish so far - but both driver and team have been buoyed by the step forward they made with the troublesome MP4-28 at Sepang.
Button felt he had been on course for a podium finish in Malaysia when a botched final pitstop dropped him a lap behind the leaders and the 33-year-old says the improvement in the car's pace in the space of just seven days between Melbourne and Sepang was a massive fillip.
"The championship is still on as far as I am concerned and I am aiming for that. Definitely," Button was quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror.
"Sebastian almost beat me to the title in 2009 and he didn't score for the first four [sic. two] races.
"It's a massive turnaround for us. Most of the race in Sepang we were quicker than the Lotus. Most of the race we were quicker than Ferrari. Who would have thought that five days before?"
Writing in his Sky Sports Online column, expert analyst Mark Hughes revealed that a "major engineering upgrade" was currently underway at McLaren's Woking factory in a bid to make an even bigger step forward in time for next week's Chinese GP.
Button acknowledged they still had plenty of work ahead of them but is taking heart from both the open nature of the season so far and the ongoing development work at Woking.
"The car is still not perfected, it was really thrown together for Sepang," he added.
"The great thing is there are so many cars that are competitive and taking points off each other, which is exactly what we need.
"I am a very happy driver at the moment knowing we have improved so much.
"And I know what the team can achieve over the next few weeks to take a strong car to in China.
"I have gone from being pretty down in Melbourne to being a lot more positive in the five days between the first two races.
"Things are not all sorted. We still have issues and need to get the car's ride sorted but in terms of development the car is much better. We've had a massive turnaround."