Button targets P18 or better for McLaren in qualifying

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Jenson Button heads into tomorrow’s qualifying session for the Australian Grand Prix with low expectations, believing that anything beyond the last row of the grid will be an achievement for McLaren following a difficult winter.

For 2015, the British team has made the switch to Honda power units in a bid to return to the front of the field after going over two years without a grand prix victory.

However, the new engines have proved difficult to work with so far, limiting the team to just 380 laps across 12 days in winter testing. In comparison, pace-setters Mercedes managed 1,339.

The problems continued in practice for the Australian Grand Prix on Friday as Button could manage just 27 laps in total, leaving the Briton with low expectations for qualifying on Saturday.

“I’m hoping it won’t be the last row of the grid tomorrow,” Button said. “It’s not going to be easy, we all know that.

“We have a few problems to solve, but the basic car doesn’t feel too bad. We know it’s not going to be easy, but we’re all working as one team, we’re solving the problems as we go, and, hopefully, we’ll be competitive sooner rather than later.

“We’ll put our heads down and get the best out of what we’ve got this weekend. A lot of hard work will be needed, but we knew that would be the case coming into the season.”

With Manor struggling to get its cars ready for qualifying, and with uncertainty still surrounding Sauber’s participation this weekend, Button and Magnussen may be safe in making it through to the top 15 in Q2 at the very least.

However, judging by McLaren’s form so far this weekend, a top ten finish may be just out of reach for the British team in Australia.

You can watch qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 2a ET on Saturday.