Jerez: Jenson Button`s body language after the first day of Formula One testing spoke happily of a new McLaren that was everything last year`s car was not.
A year ago, McLaren turned up at Jerez to give their new MP4-26 its first test run. It proved barely capable of stringing any laps together as well as being way off the pace, with a complicated `octopus-like` exhaust system that was soon jettisoned.
Button and team mate Lewis Hamilton spent the early part of the season playing catch-up to Red Bull but ended up with three wins apiece while Sebastian Vettel romped to his second championship with 11 victories.
Although McLaren have taken a different design path to other teams this season in response to regulation changes, they were confident at last week`s MP4-27 launch that there would be no repeat of last February`s misery.
"What a beautiful day. Lovely. It`s been a good day. This morning we did our installation and system checks which probably took a bit longer than I would have wished for. But apart from that the running`s been good," beamed Button after breezing into the team`s motorhome.
"There are no niggly areas with the car, which is nice. Quite different to last year. So I`m happy," continued the 32-year-old Briton.
"I`m very happy in the car. I`m in a good position. I`m really low, which I always like, trying to get as low as possible, with the way that the car is.
"I`m much lower than last year. I can just about see out, which I love. I love that position, well inside the car. I feel I`m part of it. And some promising times. But we don`t know where we stand and we won`t do until the first race."
The season starts in Melbourne on March 18.
Button completed 60 laps, including one 15 lap run, with the eighth fastest time. He said the car looked like providing a good base for improvements in the next few days.
"There`s obviously work we need to do to improve it, but it feels right, which is good. The front wheels are on the front, the rear wheels are on the back, it feels like it`s going in the right direction, and when you turn right, it goes right. Sometimes that hasn`t been the case," he said.
Asked whether he had been at all concerned that McLaren`s army of technical experts might have `dropped the ball`, with the other new cars looking so different with their `ugly` dropped noses, Button was relaxed.
He said he had been warned that others would follow that path, although perhaps not all of them, but McLaren were confident they had a competitive car and the early signs were certainly promising.
"It does feel very different to testing last year, which is a good thing really because it`s not like we can stick on an exhaust that will give us two seconds at the first race," he said.
"The regulations are very different now, so I think you are going to see the cars a lot more bunched up this season, especially at the start of the year and when racing gets underway."
Button will continue testing on Wednesday before handing over to 2008 champion Hamilton for the last two days.