Mercedes and Williams can be challenged - Button
Jenson Button thinks Williams and Mercedes are ahead of the pack on outright pace ahead of this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, but says there will be more to the race on Sunday than setting fast lap times.
Button reckons McLaren was roughly two seconds per lap shy of Williams and Mercedes during testing in Bahrain, despite sharing the same Mercedes power unit. McLaren did not get a chance to test its update package during testing due to an engine issue on the final day, but even if it doesn't close the gap to the front, Button thinks the race will be more about reliability and strategy.
"The car has a better feeling than last year and we have the best engine - the Mercedes is the best power unit out there," he said. "I feel that we do need more pace, but that was the car we tested and we have upgrades for the first race. We did have them for the test, but we didn't get to run them.
"Hopefully it's going to be a good chunk forward, but when you look at the times of the Williams and Mercedes they would be very difficult to beat if reliability wasn't a worry and strategy also. But I still think they can be challenged this weekend."
Button said reliability would be the key for getting the season off to a good start.
"You've got to put the mileage in and you've got to finish those first three races. If you can do that you're going to take home some reasonable points even if you don't have the quickest car. But as a team and a driver you've got to do the best you can and you want to win races, but I'm not sure if we will be able to do that this race. You never know when the conditions are up and down. It's not all about outright speed, there will be other things that get thrown in this weekend that will make it a little more complicated."
More than anything Button is looking forward to getting down to business.
"It's always nice to get in the car and race. It doesn't matter where you are, you just want to get in it. After all the pre-season hype and bullshit you go through it's just nice to put your visor down and get out and do the bit that you love."