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Button: Australian Grand Prix can kickstart my F1 season

McLaren teammates Jenson Button (L) and Lewis Hamilton are confident of a better showing at the Australian Grand Prix.
McLaren teammates Jenson Button (L) and Lewis Hamilton are confident of a better showing at the Australian Grand Prix.
  • F1 world champion Jenson Button confident of success at Australian GP
  • Button says Melbourne track suits McLaren-Mercedes car
  • 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton relishing Albert Park contest

(CNN) -- Reigning world champion Jenson Button has predicted a better showing for McLaren-Mercedes as the Formula One championship rolls into Melbourne ahead of the Australian Grand Prix this weekend.

Button and teammate Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 world champion, are both confident the Albert Park track will be better suited to their cars, which struggled to keep pace with Ferrari in the season opener at Bahrain.

Button finished seventh, behind the returning Michael Schumacher, while Hamilton came in third, behind the Ferrari one-two of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa respectively.

The Bahrain GP was criticized for being a disappointing race but Button is bullish about his team's chances in Melbourne.

He told McLaren's official Web site: "I have some extremely pleasant memories of racing in Australia. Albert Park was my first introduction to Formula One, and I really enjoyed my debut, running as high as fourth before retiring. I was on pole in 2006, although I had another non-finish.

Last year [in Australia] was a fairytale race for me -- I took pole and victory.
--Jenson Button, F1 world champion

"Of course, last year was a fairytale race for me -- I took pole and victory, which was one of the most satisfying and emotional moments of my career.

"Looking ahead to this year, I think we head to the Albert Park circuit feeling more confident of our overall pace. It's quite a contrast to Bahrain: no tight, low-speed sections and plenty of faster corners. We think the track configuration should suit our package.

"We learnt some very useful lessons about MP4-25 in the opening race, and the whole team is keen to put them into practice this weekend."

Hamilton claimed 15 points for finishing third in Bahrain but he says he is relishing a return to the scene of his Formula One debut in 2007.

Also speaking to the official Web site, Hamilton said: "I've always enjoyed Albert Park. I had a great race here on my Formula One debut in 2007, won the race a year later and made full use of KERS to drive through the field there last year.

"But, for me, the best things about the Australian Grand Prix are the people and the atmosphere. The fans in the grandstands, the people in the city and the organisation at the track are all fantastic, and it is one of the most welcoming and relaxing events of the year. I really love it.

"I had a great race in Bahrain: despite losing time in the opening stint, I pushed like crazy for the whole race and I'm pleased that we've got some decent points on the board.

"I'm looking forward to Melbourne. I like the circuit, I think we'll go well there and I don't think we'll have the same problems that slowed our progress in Bahrain."

Practice for the Australian Grand Prix gets underway on Friday, with qualifying Saturday and the race proper on Sunday.