JENSON BUTTON is already convinced he can win next year's Formula One world title, four months before the new campaign gets underway.
Button finished the 2012 season as he started it - with a victory - taking the chequered flag in Brazil on Sunday eight months on from his curtain-raising triumph in Australia.
With team-mate Lewis Hamilton triumphing the week before in the United States, McLaren could not have asked for a better way to head into the winter.
And with virtually no major rule changes to contend with, Button believes he and McLaren have an advantage over the opposition, including Hamilton who now heads to Mercedes.
"To end the season with a win is fantastic and bodes well for 2013," Button said. "It is a great way to go into a long winter and develop the new car. It shows we are in a very good position with it.
"Clearly, this has not been our year. I've had some tricky races, but then the three wins have been phenomenal.
"Now we have to work on our consistency to get the results, but we know what areas are needed and we are doing everything we can.
"So I really think we can win the title next year. I know we say that every year, but I really do think so.
"The thing is, we have the pace. Yes, there are other areas we need to work on, but our pace is very good."
Reminded that Red Bull have won the last three constructors' and drivers' titles, with Sebastian Vettel taking the championship in Interlagos by three points from Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, Button was undeterred.
"They've done a great job and deserve everything they have got," he said. "We just have to make sure we do a better job to beat them and that is exactly what we are going to do.
"We came close to beating Ferrari in the constructors' but we needed both of us to finish at the front and it is a pity we didn't.
"But things will be different next year. We'll be starting with this car and there are no regulation changes, so it is a great way to end the season."
Whether Hamilton will be a contender next season remains to be seen, especially after Mercedes finished the year by getting just one car in the points in the last six races.
Button added: "Mercedes are getting a very quick driver. He is going to help them, but they have a big job on their hands. I hope one day we will be racing wheel to wheel again and I look forward to that challenge."