Jenson Button says McLaren have made a step forward with MP4-28 at 2013 Hungarian GP

Although Briton admits P2 showed still large pace gap to front

By James Galloway.   Last Updated: 26/07/13 5:35pm

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Jenson Button believes McLaren have made a step forward with their MP4-28's race pace in Hungary, even if he admits their outright pace was still a long away adrift of the front runners on Friday.

On the back of a morale-boosting performance for the underperforming Woking team at the Nurburgring, when Button finished sixth, McLaren have brought a number of upgrades to the Hungaroring in wake of last week's Silverstone test and the Briton made a strong start on Friday, finishing sixth on the Practice One timesheet.

The ever-more representative afternoon session saw Button slip to ninth, the best part of a second slower than the dominant Red Bulls, but ahead of McLaren's Constructors' Championship rivals Force India.

And although acknowledging they remain some distance from the front, Button was pleased with the MP4-28's longer-run simulations.

"It's going alright and today was quite interesting with different things tested," he told Sky Sports News.

"It's a weird circuit this; we have updated the car but when you look at the times compared to the quick cars it's a big gap. But in race pace we'll probably be a little bit closer."

On Thursday Button flagged up the following race in Belgium as the place where McLaren could potentially challenge for their first podium of the season, given the Spa circuit, along with the following one at Monza, place different aerodynamic demands on the cars to most venues on the calendar.

The last event in Germany saw McLaren return to Q3 in qualifying after a two-race absence but Button was cautious when asked if the team's apparent improvement meant they could now be sure of being top-ten regulars again.

"I don't know, we'll have to see," he replied.

"The car feels reasonably good around here. I don't think the car we had in Nurburgring would have been that great round here so this is definitely a step forward, which is really nice to see, and this will help us at the next couple of races.

"Probably we'll see a bigger step forward at those two races from this package."

Speaking to reporters earlier on Friday, McLaren's Sporting Director Sam Michael made clear that the former champions' road to recovery was still continuing steadily.

"The team's just working away in our normal fashion of understanding. Like any sort of programme, you go through waves of understanding and improving correlation," Michael explained.

"The drivers are upbeat but ultimately, we're still on a journey back to the front of the grid."

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