Jenson Button insists he has a “great future” at McLaren.
His comments follow a miserable period for the 2009 world champion, having clung onto his place in F1 only to find himself at the back of the grid.
But all the leading figures at McLaren-Honda, including Fernando Alonso, are painting an “astonishingly upbeat” demeanour in the face of their struggles, according to the Telegraph correspondent Daniel Johnson.
“Cynics might retort that this is all a load of PR guff. Button is being told what to say to spare the team’s blushes”, Johnson wrote.
He surmised that, at the age of 35 and with nothing else to prove in F1, Button might be better off at Le Mans, as McLaren is “possibly years from success”.
Button told reporters in Shanghai on Thursday: “A lot of people have asked me how I am so positive and how the team is so upbeat.
“It is because we see a great future,” he insisted.
Button said McLaren has made a lot of progress since Australia, and despite probably suffering on the long Shanghai straights this weekend, might soon be “picking off” rival teams.
He said he was not far from the Red Bulls in Malaysia.
“I know they’re not quick but that is a good step forward for us,” he told the Express newspaper.
“Right now we’re comparing ourselves with the Force Indias, Saubers and Lotuses.
“Fighting with the pack is important for me. It’s what I enjoy and hopefully, race by race, we’ll start picking them off,” said Button. (GMM)