Jenson Button thinks McLaren needs the pressure of setting its sights on a podium finish in this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.
Although the team has moved to downplay its prospects of a serious challenge near the front at Spa-Francorchamps, Button is still convinced the outfit should target a top three spot.
“I think we have to be optimistic coming here, and I am,” explained Button. “I don’t know where we will end up, but I feel that we should be aiming to fight for the podium.
“If we finish fifth and five seconds behind third, then I think we will be reasonably happy. But I don’t want to be fifth or sixth and 30 seconds behind third then we will say we haven’t made an improvement.
“I think we should aim to fight for a podium. I don’t see any reason why not; I think we should put pressure on ourselves. We need it and I think we work well under it. I have no issue in saying it.”
Button thinks the high-speed nature of the Spa circuit, allied to the fact that cars run in a medium downforce configuration because of the long straights, plays well to the strengths of this year’s McLaren. “It is good for the car and it should be better for us,” he said.
He also reckons that McLaren has made progress in recent weeks in allowing Button and teammate Sergio Perez to get the car operating in a wider se-up window.
“We have more tools with the car in terms of the set-up,” he said “”It is not stuff that outright gives you pace, but stuff that helps you set the car up and put it where you want it.
“We were very limited in Budapest and Hungary in terms of the balance of the car, especially in qualifying. I could not get it right as I didn’t have enough adjustment with the car.”