MONTE CARLO, Monaco, May 25, 2011 (AFP) - Formula One 2009 world champion Jenson Button believes his McLaren car has the potential pace to match and catch the red-hot Red Bulls at this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix.
Red Bull have dominated qualifying so far this season claiming pole position at all of the opening five Grands Prix, but the 30-year-old Englishman is confident that his car is better suited to the twists and turns of the Monte Carlo street circuit.
Despite being able to match the pace of the Red Bulls during the race in Spain last weekend, both Button and his McLaren team-mate and compatriot Lewis Hamilton were a second slower in qualifying.
Button, presently fourth in the championship, admitted that there was still a lot of work to do to match the Red Bulls in the long run, but believes that this weekend may be his team's best chance of a pole position.
"They're just so fast in qualifying, but nobody really knows why" said Button. "We feel that they have a lot more downforce than us, and looking at the pace difference, I can't see us beating them in qualifying in the near future
unless it's a very unusual circumstance - like perhaps in Monaco."
Although the 2009 champion has only out-qualified 2008 champion Hamilton once this season, Button insisted he has been happy with his performance and is starting to feel at one with his car.
"I wanted to work with the team to find a car I was really comfortable with in qualifying and really be able to push it to the limits, and I'm quite happy," he added.
"I've been outqualified by Lewis 4-1 and if you look at that, it doesn't look great, but I'm actually happy with it.
"At the last race he got me by three hundredths, so that's very close. He's just had the edge in qualifying, but the feeling I have in the car makes me much more comfortable and I've definitely had a better consistency in qualifying this year - exactly what you need over a long season."