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Title still the target despite slow start - Button

ESPN Staff
April 2, 2013 « STR8 yet to match expectations - Ricciardo | Webber and Kimi 'candidates' for 2014 - Mateschitz »
Jenson Button: "The championship is still on as far as I am concerned" © Sutton Images

Jenson Button insists he is in with a shot at the championship this year despite McLaren's slow start to 2013.

After problems throughout testing, the extent of McLaren's troubles became clear in Australia when the car was over 1.5s off the pace and Button struggled to ninth. At the second round in Malaysia the car performed better but a wheel gun problem at one of Button's pit stops dropped him out of the points from fifth place.

As a result Button has just two points from the first two rounds - 38 less than championship leader Sebastian Vettel - but is confident McLaren can turn its fortunes around.

"The championship is still on as far as I am concerned and I am aiming for that. Definitely," Button told the Mirror. "Sebastian almost beat me to the title in 2009 and he didn't score for the first four 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?

"We are still not where we want to be and we got a bit lucky with the circuit being so smooth which helped a bit but a lot is understanding where the downforce is. The car is still not perfected, it was really thrown together for Sepang. The great thing is there are so many cars that are competitive and taking points off each other, which is exactly what we need.

"It was such a positive weekend until the pit stop and it hurt," he said. "And it hurt when I woke up the next day knowing we scored nothing and we could have, at worst, been fifth. It is what it is."

With a three-week break between the last race in Malaysia and the next race in China, Button is expecting McLaren to make some big performance gains.

"We've got to move on and look forward to China. I just wish it wasn't around three weeks away. In a way, though, that's good because it gives us extra time to work on the car. For us the gap means more than it does to most teams because it gives us time to perfect the car. 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. We are still off the pace of the Red Bulls but it is still amazing how much you can move forward in five days and I was surprised to be in fifth and still being able to see the leader."