Jenson Button still confident that McLaren can win the Constructors' Championship
McLaren driver remains happy with the pace of the MP4-27
Last Updated: 26/10/12 4:42am
Jenson Button still believes his McLaren is the second-fastest car on the grid and the MP4-27 can be a match for the rampant Red Bulls this weekend in India.
In sharp contrast to the fortunes of new World Championship leader Sebastian Vettel, who has won the last three races, McLaren have been undone by unreliability and a lack of pace in recent weeks.
But while both Button and team-mate Lewis Hamilton have admitted they are no longer in contention to win the Drivers' Championship following a miserable Korean GP, Button is adamant that McLaren are not giving up on their hopes of winning the Constructors' Championship despite trailing Red Bull by 83 points in the standings.
"We are not in it for the Drivers' Championship anymore but we are still in the Constructors' and big points are important to the team," the 2009 World Champion told Sky Sports News.
"I had a great race here last year, finished second behind Sebastian, but this year it is just so competitive. Both Ferraris are driving well and obviously Red Bull and us two - so there are six guys who really could win this Grand Prix.
"It is going to be tricky, but that is what it is all about. Friday and Saturday are going to be important leading up to the race and we want to qualify well and have a good race car around here, but we don't know how the tyres are going to fade yet."
Despite Red Bull seemingly surging ahead - in addition to Vettel's three successive victories, the team also locked out the front row in qualifying in both Japan and Korea - Button still feels McLaren have a competitive car.
"I don't think people have put that much on over the last couple of races, but we have upgraded the car over the last couple of races. Red Bull have a bit and Ferrari has but not enough to worry about - we still have very good pace."
"Japan wasn't great, but I think we had equal second best car with Ferrari and the Sauber and at the last race we really don't know where we were because of the problems we had."
"They probably have a tough battle. What we've seen this year is maybe that lack of consistency: their pit stop problems; the gearbox problem that we saw with Lewis in Singapore. We have seen those Red Bulls being very, very strong. I think the Red Bull probably looks too strong at this point."
Button also suggested that Red Bull's recent leap forward might have been emphasised by a degree of underperformance earlier in the summer.
"Maybe they underperformed. In Hungary they did: Sebastian was the quickest guy on the circuit but he was stuck behind me," he added.
"Sebastian qualified 11th in Spa, finished second and had the same race pace as us. In Monza they weren't quick but in most races they have been quick, it just hasn't worked out. And the last few races have been the same for us."
"I think they've been quick but I wouldn't say they're a big amount quicker. The biggest thing is that their qualifying has improved."