Jenson Button has hailed the progress McLaren’s engine partner, Honda, has made in improving its power unit in the two weeks following the team’s disappointing showing at the Australian Grand Prix.

The 2009 World Champion finished 2.367 seconds slower than the fastest time of the Q1 session, posted Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes. It marked a relative half-second improvement from Australia, where Button was 2.836 seconds off his compatriot’s ultimate pace.

The Englishman narrowly outqualified teammate Fernando Alonso at Sepang, and will start the race from 17th position.

“When you’re 17th on the grid you’re obviously disappointed, that’s always the way,” Button said after qualifying.

“But you’ve got to look at what we’ve done in terms of progress – it is a lot of progress. Tomorrow I think we’ll show that a lot more with the higher fuel loads.

“We’ve made a massive step with the engine here. You’ll probably see that in the race, in terms of efficiency, and fuel useage as well – we were saving crazy amounts of fuel at the first race, up to 20 per cent. It’s going to be a lot easier for us. It’s still going to be tough, but we’re making progress.”

Alonso was equally praising in his first weekend of running in the MP4-30 since his pre-season testing accident in Spain last month.

I think we are making very big progress. If we can improve by 1.5 seconds every two weeks, in three or four races we’ll be on pole!” he quipped.

“It’s a tough period for us being out of Q1, but if we see the facts and numbers it’s much better than it was in Australia in terms of pace.”

Image via McLaren Media Centre

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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.