Button feels McLaren closer to Red Bull

Jenson Button believes McLaren is closer to Red Bull's race pace this year than it was at the start of last season.

After the first race in Australia the hard facts indicated that Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull was quicker in qualifying trim by about 0.8 seconds and 22 seconds faster over a race distance. But Button believes those statistics are misleading and is confident the McLaren is quicker than it looks, especially in race conditions.

"Clearly, the Red Bulls are quick, Sebastian's pole lap showed everyone that," he told his official website. "But, on race pace, it would look as if we're already a lot closer at this stage of the season than we were last year. I know you can say that Red Bull weren't using KERS Hybrid, which puts a couple of tenths in your pocket, but I don't think it's as clear-cut as you might have believed on Saturday evening.

"We're very definitely in the hunt. I think there's a massive amount of untapped potential in our car: Sunday was the first time we'd even completed a race distance with the car, which tells you how much there is to get out of the package.

"And I think Ferrari will be very strong too. They started the weekend strongly, but it sounds like they went a little backwards on Saturday and into Sunday. But their race pace was good, so I think they'll only be stronger at the next two races. All in all, it's looking like a continuation of the battle between the three top teams that we saw last year, which will be great for the sport and the fans."

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