LONDON, Oct 3, 2011 (Time Collings / AFP) - Jenson Button arrived at Suzuka this weekend determined to prove that he and McLaren have what it takes to make life as difficult as possible for champions-elect Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Although the 24-year-old German needs just one point - finishing 10th will be enough whatever Button does - the 31-year-old Briton is targeting a victory and a strong end to the season to make a point ahead of 2012.
On paper, given their relative strengths and weaknesses, the Suzuka circuit should favour the Red Bull team of Vettel and Australian Mark Webber.
But Button aims to prove that McLaren are better than most people think. He said: "In the last few races, I think we've shown that we have extremely good pace and that we've been the team most able to take the fight to Red Bull. We can do it again in Japan.
"I know that on paper, I think it's a circuit that will suit the Red Bulls, particularly in the high-speed sweeps that make up the first sector of the track, but I certainly don't think people should under-estimate our package.
"We showed at Spa that we have a car that's very effective in high-speed corners. We've also improved our straight-line speed and we have a more efficient rear-wing for qualifying, so I think we're feeling positive about the weekend."
Button might have won last weekend's Singapore Grand Prix, but for ill luck with traffic in the closing laps when he was reducing Vettel's margin at the front of the field.
His McLaren team-mate and compatriot Lewis Hamilton is also adamant that he has plenty to race for and wants to prove that being aggressive is, in Japan, the right way to race.
"I think Suzuka will play to my strengths -- it's a track that really requires you to drive in an attacking way to be able to get a good lap time," said Hamilton.
"It's an uncompromising place, but that's when the thrill of driving a Formula One car is at its highest -- when you know you can't afford a single mistake and where driving on the absolute limit is the only way to get the best time.
"In that sense, it's a lot like Monaco, and maybe that's why I like the place so much - it's unique.
"I think we're headed there in pretty good shape. We know that the Red Bulls will be strong, but we also have a very quick car and we can make it work on different kinds of circuit."
Hamilton admitted too that he has been outperformed this season by his team-mate Button.
"I think for me now it's just time to find my ground and improve on the results that we've had in the last four races. Jenson's done an incredible job...I feel he's done a better job all season, really," he said.
"So even if I did a better job in the next five races it doesn't mean a lot to me. I mean, it's through a whole year that it matters."