SEPANG, April 7, 2011 (AFP) - McLaren driver Jenson Button expects his car's new Pirelli tyres to be decisive in Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, after they held up well at the opening race of the season a fortnight ago.
But the 2009 world champion warned that the higher temperatures in Sepang will pose a much sterner examination of the tyres than in Melbourne's season opener.
"It's a lot hotter and it's a very tough circuit, for the cars, the drivers and especially for the four things that are touching the road -- the tyres." the British driver said.
"So I think we are going to see a very different race and mostly because of the tyres in the hot temperatures. It's a lot more demanding and a lot tougher on the tyres. It brings another element into it, which is good I think."
Button, who finished sixth in Melbourne after receiving a drive-through penalty, said he was delighted with the performance of his car after a dismal winter of testing and hopes that fine-tuning will help him stay within touching distance of lead rivals Red Bull.
"We have some upgrades here which will sort of fine-tune the package we have and give us more lap time and hopefully better consistency," he said. "But there is a lot more that will come into play here in Sepang."
McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who finished second in Melbourne, is hoping for another strong showing but is wary of the unpredictability of the Malaysian event after rain ruined his qualifying last year.
"I'm hoping for a similar performance to last weekend, but we don't know what to expect with these conditions and how the Pirelli's will perform," he said.
"It will be interesting, last year I was very quick in practice and then it rained and ruined our whole weekend, hopefully this time we will be better