McLaren remains ‘quite a long way back’ – Button

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Jenson Button says McLaren-Honda remains “quite a long way back” after securing P12 and P14 on Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix, a lap down from race winner Lewis Hamilton.

The 2009 world champion is nonetheless pleased with his team’s overall progress at Shanghai.

The Woking-based squad claimed its first double finish of 2015, with Fernando Alonso leading team-mate Button home on the road. The Briton was eventually demoted to 14th when he received a post-race five-second penalty for ramming into Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado at Turn 1.

Starting from 17th on the grid, Button steadily climbed his way up the order as some of his rivals faltered. Using a different race strategy from Alonso, he was able to overcome the Spaniard, who had jumped ahead of him in the early stages of the Grand Prix.

The pair later rejoined and was embroiled in a three-way scrap with Maldonado before Button punted the Venezuelan out of the race.

Although the 35-year-old remains realistic over McLaren's current pace, he is nonetheless satisfied to have been able to race the cars in front.

“The first stint was interesting,” said Button. “The Red Bull had an issue I guess. I don’t know what their problem was, especially one of them. We were able to stay reasonably close.

“It’s better than I think we expected our race pace to be around here. But we’re still around the back.

“People to being amongst us, they need to have made mistakes in the race. They still make our race fun. I think we are making progress.

“The balance is OK, there is room for improvement. On the option tyre, we were relatively competitive. The second stint of mine, I could see some cars in front but was unable to catch them.”

Asked whether he expects his outfit to make further headway next week at Sakhir, Button reiterates that next month's Spanish Grand Prix is a more reasonable target for a McLaren return to form.

“I think Bahrain will be relatively difficult for us. Heading to Europe, Barcelona is hopefully a circuit we’ll work a little bit better on. And we do have an upgrade there, which is positive and quite interesting. But every race we need to improve obviously because we’re quite a long way back.”

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