Jenson Button hopeful of improvement in Shanghai

Jenson Button remains confident that McLaren have plenty of pace with which to challenge for victory in Shanghai despite enduring a “difficult day” in Friday’s practice sessions.

Struggling with understeer, Button finished the day in sixth place, half a second down on team-mate Lewis Hamilton in Practice Two, and over seven-tenths adrift of pace-setter Michael Schumacher. The 2009 World Champion was not too downhearted, however, as he reiterated his faith in the MP4-27’s competitiveness.

“It wasn’t a great day, but there’s still plenty of data to look at to try to understand why we couldn’t get a good balance,” Jenson told Sky Sports News. “But the car is obviously working, we just have to get it in the right areas and get the tyres working – which Lewis is obviously doing.”

With Hamilton due to receive a grid-slot demotion of five places on account of a gearbox change on his McLaren which is expected to take place ahead of qualifying, Button has assumed the role of favourite to take victory in Sunday’s race.

“The pace is in the car, we just need to extract it,” declared Jenson. “But our aim is to qualify on the front-row. It’s difficult to know which teams are quick, and we should get a better picture in P3, but we’re obviously hoping to be further up than we were today.”

“I always do like the challenge of having to come through,” Lewis told SSN. “But it’s incredible at the start of the race; trying to gain positions while staying out of trouble is always key.

“But I’m really looking forward to qualifying tomorrow. Hopefully we can be as high up as possible so then the penalty is not too bad. But I think we’ll still be in the race, in amongst the group. If you see at the last race, Fernando won from quite far back so hopefully that gives us positives going into the race.”