Jenson Button feels Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull will be the pacesetters in 2012, but the gap won’t be as big as the start of 2011. Button was also optimistic, if a little cautious, after his first day in the MP4-27 in Barcelona.

“It was good to wash out 114 laps today, I think on average, over the three days, we’ve averaged around 116, 177 laps, which is very good”, he said, “It’s something that’s new to us from last year, and even the year before. It’s more useful as you have more time for reliability and also set-up work. It’s also good to get an understanding of the new tyres also, as they look the same, but are completely different in terms of compounds.”

“It’s a good step forward from Jerez, definitely in terms of reliability. There’s been no big step forward – there’s been no major change to the car – and there will be an update in Melbourne. It’s not a straightforward one, not about purely bolting downforce onto the car, but we’re heading in the right direction.”

The conversation quickly moved onto the fact the Jenson is one of 6 World Champions on this season’s grid, and when asked who would be the one to beat, the Briton was divided. “I hope Lewis is the one to beat out of the 5 other champions, as it means we have a bloody good car!”

“Sebastian (Vettel) is the one to beat though, he’s won the last two world championships. There have been regulation changes, and the gap may be closer, but Red Bull will be strong this year from the word go, but I don’t think they’ll have the advantage they had at the start of last year.”

Button was also asked about his appearence at the Brit awards. “It was a new experience for me. There was lots of sitting down, then standing up for three minutes! But I love live music, especially Ed Sheeran. If you ever get the chance, see him live – it’s very special. And Adele, obviously.”

Here’s a little gallery of some Jenson images we managed to take from Thursday’s action.