Button - I'm encouraged

Brit nevertheless stresses that a "further step" is needed

Although Jenson Button has been encouraged by Honda's performances so far this season, he has nevertheless conceded that regular points-scoring finishes are still out of reach.

Honda have run in the top eight in both of this season's opening races, with Button's team-mate Rubens Barrichello finishing sixth in the Australian Grand Prix before being disqualified.

Meanwhile, Button ran as high as seventh in last weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix before eventually finishing 10th.

Honda's start to the season has been seen as a very encouraging one as many predicted they would be running near the back of the pack after a disappointing series of winter tests.

However, despite doing better thanks to an aerodynamic update debuted in their last pre-season test at Jerez, Button admits that Honda still have some way to go before becoming regular top-eight challengers.

"We are pleased with our performance so far this season and it was very valuable to complete the full race distance in Malaysia last weekend," he said.

"Our overall position in the midfield pack is encouraging, however we have to make a further step to be competing for points on a regular basis.

"With no opportunity for testing since the season began, we will be using the data gathered in Australia and Malaysia to maximise our performance at what will be another very hot race in Bahrain.

"I'm hopeful that we will be knocking on the door of the top 10 in qualifying once again," added Button, who started 11th on the grid last time out at Sepang.

Midfield runner

Team boss Ross Brawn has also downplayed Honda's results, saying that their new RA108 is not yet a top-ten runner.

"The first two races have established that the RA108 is capable of competing strongly in the midfield pack and is close to breaking into the top ten runners," he said.

"To score points however, we need to over-achieve on our current level of performance.

"Whilst we will aim for this in Bahrain, the European season - when our next developments arrive - is a more realistic target."