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Jenson Button positive ahead of Australian Grand Prix

Jenson Button
Button has won the last two Australian Grand Prix

Jenson Button remains positive ahead of the Australian Grand Prix despite a disappointing finish to testing in Barcelona on Friday.

The 31-year-old McLaren driver only managed to post the 13th-fastest time by the end of the day.

Lewis Hamilton continues testing for McLaren on Saturday, but Button says McLaren can perform well in Australia.

"It's going to be a tricky weekend but if anyone can pull back after tough testing it's McLaren," he said.

Button was restricted to 57 laps on day four - although only day three for McLaren - of the final pre-season test at the Circuit de Catalunya on Friday.

He spent the morning practising pit stops and aerodynamic assessments before recording his best time of one minute 25.837 seconds after an engine change - 4.5 seconds behind pacesetter Michael Schumacher for Mercedes.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso trailed the German by 0.346 seconds, while Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel finished 1.665 seconds off the pace.

Although Button said he was disappointed not to get more miles under his belt in testing, he is looking forward to the season's first race.

"We had an engine change over lunch which took a little bit more time than we thought so I haven't got a lot of running done really," he said.

"But I think after Tuesday we were quite positive with the direction we've taken with the car and I think there is more to come in Australia."

Button, who made his Grand Prix debut in Australia in 2000, won in Melbourne in an incident packed race in 2010 to follow up his victory there in 2009.

I don't think you should ever write off a top team, especially one that's won so many championships and fought for so many championships like McLaren
Jenson Button

"It's a circuit I love and I've had great experiences there," said Button. "I'm looking forward to going back and hopefully we'll find a bit more performance and our reliability will be good."

Button is equally bullish about McLaren's chances of finding the pace and reliability to contest the championship over a season.

"I don't think you should ever write off a top team, especially one that's won so many championships and fought for so many championships like McLaren," he said.

"I agree that it's been a tough winter and we haven't done the mileage that we'd have liked and we haven't been able to get the performance out of this car that we expect to.

"But it doesn't mean that we're not going to be challenging this year. The first race is going to be difficult to really challenge the Ferraris and the Red Bulls, but you never know."

Button is hoping his Japanese girlfriend Jessica Michibata, who was in her homeland during the earthquake that hit the country on Friday, will also be in Melbourne to cheer him on.

"She's OK, just a bit shaken," he said. "Hopefully I'm going to see her in a couple of days in Australia if they can get flights out of Japan and give her a big hug."

Button added: "It's horrific and very devastating. It's difficult to know what to do but my thoughts are with all the people in Japan, especially in Sendai."

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see also
F1 testing photos
12 Mar 11 |  Formula 1
Car upgrades boost Mercedes hopes
11 Mar 11 |  Formula 1
Button pessimistic for opening GP
08 Mar 11 |  Formula 1

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