After winning this race three times in the last four seasons, and in the wake of how strongly McLaren finished last year’s campaign, hopes were high the team would start on the front foot.
But after taking a radical approach over the winter with a car the team are struggling to understand, ninth place was something of a minor triumph for Button come the conclusion of the 58-lap race.
Following a tough opening weekend, far removed from his excitement when the car was unveiled at the end of January, Button said: “It was good to get a couple of points, but it doesn’t really ease the pain. At this stage we still have to aim for the world championship.
That has to be the target when you drive for McLaren. But it’s going to be very difficult for us from where we are, a lot harder than we thought this year.”