McLaren confident of more podium places in Malaysia

Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:57am EDT
 
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By Patrick Johnston

SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - McLaren duo Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen believe a lack of pace will not stop them vying for more podium spots on Malaysia's notoriously fast track after promising shows at the season-opener in Australia.

The two drivers were promoted to second and third in Melbourne two weeks ago after the disqualification of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, putting the team on top of the constructors standings.

However, the paddock was united in its belief on Thursday that the Mercedes pair of Nico Rosberg, who won the Albert Park race, and Lewis Hamilton, who was on pole before retiring, were ahead of the rest as the grid gets used to the new V6 engines.

"I think the two guys in the Mercedes, it's going to be easy for them in terms of how competitive they'll be compared to the rest," Button told reporters at the Sepang circuit.

"Everyone else behind I think is fighting for third. I think there's a big gaggle of cars that are very close in lap times and probably in race pace as well."

The 2009 world champion acknowledged the quick Sepang track was probably not best suited to their Mercedes-powered car but was confident that new upgrades for Sunday's race would help.

"This is a high-speed circuit compared to Melbourne. That's an area where we're not at our strongest so that does hurt us a little bit," Button said.

"The low-speed corners I think we are going to be stronger at this race which is good. It's where a lot of the lap time is made up because you're in the corner for longer.   Continued...

 
McLaren Formula One driver Jenson Button of Britain speaks to journalists ahead of the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit outside Kuala Lumpur March 27, 2014. REUTERS/Samsul Said