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Glass half-full for bullish Button

McLaren star optimistic that he can add to his back-to-back wins at Albert Park thanks to approach taken by his team

by Matthew Clayton

McLaren’s Jenson Button has backed the aggressive approach taken by his team as it attempts to turn around its lacklustre pre-season testing form.

The 2009 World Champion said on Thursday that a new exhaust system brought to Albert Park this weekend was the right way for McLaren to address a worrying lack of speed and reliability over the last two months.

“I like the aggressive approach of bringing another exhaust system here and really fighting,” Button said.

“I think if you settle for a position and think ‘we’ll pick up a few points here, that’s enough’, that’s the wrong attitude. We just have to hope that tomorrow (Friday) is dry so we can do some set-up work with it, because our set-up work has been limited.”

Button, who has won the last two races at Albert Park, said McLaren’s lack of mileage in testing makes it impossible to gauge where the British team sits in the F1 pecking order coming into the new season.

“I really don’t know where we are,” he admitted.

“It’s exciting in one way because we could be pleasantly surprised this weekend. With the new exhaust system and some other tweaks on the car, if everything goes to plan, we’ll hopefully have made up quite a bit of ground. Whether that’s enough to challenge the top teams, we’ll have to wait and see.”

Button is drawing on his memories of the start of the 2009 season, where he dominated in Australia for Brawn GP in its maiden race after very little testing, as inspiration this weekend.

“The amount of laps we did in testing wasn’t enough – it was just over half what the other top guys did – but I’ve been there before (in 2009), and I won the championship that year,” he said.

“Everything is possible with a team like (McLaren) which has the manpower and has fought for so many world championships. I couldn’t be in a better position to fight back here in Melbourne.”

Button knows outright pace doesn’t always guarantee victory in Australia. Last year, after qualifying fourth, the Englishman made an inspired tactical decision to pit early for slick tyres, a call that won him the race for a second consecutive year.

“We didn’t come here last year with the quickest car, but we won the race,” he said.

“It was tricky circumstances with the weather, but still, we won. I’m hoping we can wheel the car out on Saturday for qualifying and be as quick as the quickest. I might be dreaming, but we have to be positive.”

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