POOR START IN MELBOURNE: McLaren's Jenson Button finished the 2015 Australian GP in 11th place. Image: AP / Ross Land
MELBOURNE, Australia - McLaren believed it made progress despite a disappointing 2015 Australian Grand Prix in which Jenson Button didn't manage to score points and team mate Kevin Magnussen failed to start.
McLaren-Honda race director Eric Boullier said: "After a tremendously difficult weekend, it's not easy to find positives, but in fact there are some."
Boullier said the fact that Button was able to finish - albeit last of the 11 finishers and out of the points - helped give the team useful data in completing 56 race laps.
BACK OF THE GRID
Magnussen - standing in for the convalescing Fernando Alonso - failed to reach the grid after an "as-yet-unspecified power unit glitch," Boullier said.
Both McLarens were last on the grid after qualifying (March 14) and a pre-season testing phase dominated by reliability problems and Alonso's crash in testing in Barcelona on February 22.
Boullier said the team "know we have a mountain to climb as far as performance is concerned" after Button was lapped twice by race winner Hamilton in a Mercedes.
"In two weeks' time we'll be racing in Sepang (Malaysia), where the weather is bound to be extremely hot and humid.
"I'm not going to be rash enough to predict a form upswing in so short a time frame, but we'll be working flat-out between now and then to make performance and reliability gains in any and every way we can, of that you may be 100% certain."
'WE'RE A LONG WAY OFF'
Button said that finishing the race at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne was "a small victory" for the team.
Button said: "Today has been a good day. We're still a long way off, but this is a good starting point - and I enjoyed the race.
"It's been a tough winter - our longest run in testing was just 12 laps, so today's 58-lap run was a good step forward - but we know we've got a lot of work to do."
Honda motorsport chief Yasuhisa Arai said the cause of Magnussen's engine problem was not known.
Arai said: "We still need to fully investigate the source of Kevin's problem, and we won't be able to look into it until the car comes back to us and we're able to take off the engine cover."
McLaren do not yet know whether Alonso will be able to return for the Malaysian Grand Prix after being treated for concussion following his Barcelona crash.
A McLaren spokesman told BBC Sport the team continued to liaise with the international motorsport federation FIA and Alonso's doctors, but "it will not be up to us to decide when he will return to the cockpit."
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