Jenson Button is hoping to get his title defence back on track at this weekend’s Australian GP, despite McLaren’s admission that it is behind the behind the pace of the leading Red Bull Racing and Ferrari cars.

Button endured a difficult maiden outing for McLaren, qualifying in eighth and racing to seventh place. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton, by contrast, had a more productive weekend and finished on the podium in Bahrain.

Nonetheless, the 2009 Champion is confident he can score his first podium of the season at Albert Park.

"I think the Red Bulls are very strong, I think the Ferraris are very strong and then it’s probably us," he is quoted by Reuters, "but I’m hoping, with a few little updates, that we’ll be closer to them and maybe challenging them here.

"The first race for us was difficult; I don’t think the car suited Bahrain too well but I think it will suit this circuit better – it’s a lower downforce circuit, so we have to wait and see.”

Button took the opportunity to sample (V8 Supercars champion) Jamie Whincup’s Holden Commodore (pictured) for a Vodafone promotional event at the Australian GP venue today.

"A podium would be fantastic here," he went on. "I think that has to be the aim. I think it’s a possibility and you’ve got to set your sights pretty high.

Jenson Button V8 Supercar

"It’s going to be a very competitive season but the aim has to be to be World Champion. I need to be in a position in which I have a car that can be competitive enough to fight for race wins and then it’s more or less down to me."

With Albert Park marking the scene of his – and Brawn GP’s – unexpected return to the title fight (which they would go on to win), Button would be hoping for a better result than Bahrain.

It’s his ultra-competitive team-mate he also needs to worry about – a few more weekends like Bahrain, and his stock will plummet considerably…

[Image via AUTOSPORT]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.