Date: 2nd February 2012 at 11:21am
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McLaren launched their 2012 Formula One title contender on Wednesday and Jenson Button is hopeful that the team have produced a car to rival Red Bull this season.

2011 started on the back foot for McLaren, they missed one of the earlier test sessions with their new car, missed out on thousands of miles of testing time and eventually scrapped the majority of their plans on the eve of the season opener in Australia.

That decision dramatically improved the teams performance, but overall McLaren were always a few steps behind Red Bull and by the time the gap was closed, Vettel had virtually had the championship wrapped up.

McLaren therefore hope that this season they can challenge from the off and the key to that is getting a good feel for the car and get in some good development time at the first test in Jerez over the next week.

The first test of the 2012 season begins on Tuesday and McLaren will not know how they fair against the opposition until then.

‘It’s difficult to know where you stand. I’m hoping we are in a good position when we wheel the car out in Jerez. Button told Autosport Magazine at the launch of the new McLaren on Monday.

‘The most important thing is to get miles done in testing, so we have time to fine-tune car so you arrive at the first race and you are not worried about anything. We are all positive now and hopefully that will continue in testing.’

Button believes that once again McLaren’s main title rivals will be Red Bull Racing and double World champion Sebastian Vettel.

‘Red Bull will be strong, You don’t suddenly build a bad car after wining the championship for two years. We hope they do – but I would be surprised if they do.

‘We don’t know where we stand, so the important thing is stay focused on what we do, look at the next few weeks and see where we stand then.’