Button forecasts fun for Melbourne
2:45pm Monday 10th March 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Jenson Button believes "a fun weekend" is in store in Melbourne due to the vast array of unanswered questions going into the new Formula One season.
Following a strong beginning to pre-season testing, many observers were expecting McLaren to be towards the front of the grid this campaign.
Certainly McLaren could not go any further backwards after a wretched 2013 in which the team failed to record a podium finish for the first time in 33 years.
McLaren's form, however, dipped as testing progressed and as gremlins were encountered, although they they were not alone in finding issues to plague them.
The new regulations, which have resulted in the introduction of 1.6-litre V6 turbo-charged power units complete with two energy recovery systems, have thrown all the teams a curveball.
That has left virtually everyone on the grid playing guessing games as to how Sunday's season-opening race in Australia will pan out, including veteran Button.
"I think this year's Australian Grand Prix is going to be an absolutely fascinating sporting contest," said Button.
"Even with stable regulations, Melbourne is usually unpredictable.
"This year, I don't think anybody knows quite what to expect - will we see more than half the field at the end of the race? Will we see good, close racing? Will the pecking order pan out as we expect?
"Those are all questions we've yet to see answered, and part of what makes for such a fun weekend."
Button at least believes McLaren have a reasonable platform on which to build their campaign this season as opposed to last year when they built what can only be described as a dog of a car which whined its way through the year.
The signs have predominantly been encouraging, even if the 34-year-old struggled in the final test in Bahrain to clock up the laps, but he remains upbeat.
"In terms of performance, while there's plenty of potential within the car, we still think it'll take a little time to unlock that promise," said Button.
"It's not quite where we'd like it to be, so I don't think we go to Melbourne with a package that accurately reflects our progress with the car - it'll take a little longer for that to become apparent.
"In general, this season is going to be all about continuous development.
"Our stated aim has always been to try and scoop up a useful haul of points from the opening races - by virtue of solid engineering and good reliability - and then to quickly refine and develop the package, and deliver further performance in due course.
"Nonetheless, I do think the potential is there: the car has given us what last year's didn't - namely, a reliable and predictable platform upon which we can build and develop.
"In every respect, this year's car feels different to last year's, and that makes me excited, which is exactly as things should be as you head off for the first race of the year."