Jenson Button fears a long, difficult winter is in store for McLaren-Honda as it seeks to make the gains needed to return it towards the front of the Formula 1 grid again.
Team-mate Fernando Alonso has already suggested it is a realistic target for the team to find the 2.5 seconds per lap he feels is required to become winners and end the longest barren run without a victory in its history, currently standing at 56 races.
The recent Brazilian Grand Prix weekend, however, was another tough one for the McLaren-Honda partnership as the car’s lack of pace was again highlighted, with Button suggesting the straightline deficit to its rivals was «scary».
«We knew it was going to be a difficult season, and the last few races in particular have been very difficult,» Button said.
«It would be nice to see more reliability, and we are trying to push and make good gains because next year is the one that is a lot more exciting for us.
«This year is more of a testing year for us. In some of the races we’ve done OK in unusual circumstances.
«But most of the time it has been testing, trying to prove out things with the power unit, and also with the car itself, the chassis, the aerodynamics.
«Every race we have brought new parts, and whether you see them or not in terms of lap time, it is all learning for next year.
«But it’s going to be a long winter, not an easy winter to find the time we need, but a winter we are all looking forward to.
«If we’re fighting at the front then we’ve got to find another two and a half seconds, which is a massive gap.
«Whether we can do that I don’t know, but I know we will make big gains this winter.»