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Button sure McLaren stronger than in 2013 Formula 1 season

Jenson Button has no doubts McLaren is in much better shape than it was last year, despite slipping behind Force India in the Formula 1 title battle.

McLaren delivered a double podium finish in the Australian Grand but it has added just 10 points in the two races since.

But despite the stronger pace shown by Mercedes-powered rivals Williams and Force India in recent races, Button thinks McLaren is more improved than it appears.

"Our understanding of the aero and downforce we have on the car is much better than we have last year," he said.

"The correlation between the windtunnel and reality is also very good, probably even better than 2012 because it's actually working.

"We are lacking in downforce, but at least we have a car that is good and we're not afraid to throw downforce at it, whereas last year we didn't know how the car would react.

"We're in a good position, but we need to push very hard from now on to have any chance of catching Mercedes in the first quarter of the season."

Racing director Eric Boullier reckons that McLaren's early season priority had to be in delivering a driveable car before it could contemplate the necessary speed improvements.

"The attention over the winter was clearly to make sure the car would be driveable, balanced and reliable. All targets have been achieved," said Boullier.

"There was also a lot of research to understand what went wrong last year, and part of it was due to correlation. Work has been done over the winter and now it is working.

"We are a little down on downforce, so it's about catching up, and we have put everything in place to catch up. But there is massive improvement with this car compared to last year."

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