Jenson Button is pursuing nothing less than a repeat of last year's opening victory in Melbourne after now admitting a disappointing start this season in Bahrain.
The world champion qualified eighth at the Sakhir circuit and finished seventh, 45 seconds adrift of the race-winner, Fernando Alonso, and 22 seconds shy of McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton. It is not what Button was expecting on his debut for the Woking-based team, in particular the performance advantage the Red Bulls and Ferraris had over the McLaren.
But on an Albert Park track where Button began last season's title campaign in stunning fashion with pole and victory, the 30-year-old is looking for back-to-back successes Down Under. "Obviously, the Red Bull team are very strong, and Ferrari was very strong in Bahrain," said Button at a Vodafone promotional event in Melbourne.
"But this course should suit us. Lewis has had a good time here before, as I have. So we are confident. It's a low downforce circuit and that should suit us reasonably well, so I am excited about racing here. I think we can have a much better race. A podium would be fantastic here [in Melbourne]. I think that has to be the aim. I think it's a possibility and you've got to set your sights pretty high. I am excited, and if I didn't think the car was good, I wouldn't be.
"Although I was disappointed with the result in Bahrain, I'm thinking we can be up there with the Red Bulls and Ferraris. Last year was a fairytale race for me with pole and the victory, which was one of the most satisfying and emotional moments of my career. After winning here last year, I want to do the same again."
But Button knows to be in with a chance of a repeat performance, he cannot afford to be languishing a third of the way down the grid. "The car in practice was working well, but then in qualifying it didn't go so well for me, and for the team as well," added Button. "It is an area we need to work on because our race performance was pretty good. I was just stuck in traffic behind Michael Schumacher, which made it very tricky."
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