Jenson Button hopes to have Sepang all sewn up with McLaren
After twelve years at the top, accumulating 999 career points over 230 Grand Prix and one world title, Jenson Button can consider himself one of Formula One’s veterans. But don’t be fooled into thinking that time and success has blunted his enthusiasm for the sport, or his desire to get behind the wheel for another shot at a title.
“It’s funny, but the start of the winter break always feels so long and open-ended. But before you know it, you’re looking at the calendar and making plans to get back to MTC (McLaren Test Centre) and start working again. I have to say, I always look forward to the start of a new year – I’ve never lost that enthusiasm throughout my entire career – and I think we have a lot to look forward to during the year ahead”, Button revealed to Formula1.com.
Without a doubt, the 2012 season was the end of an era for the McLaren team, with Button’s British teammate Lewis Hamilton departing for Mercedes to replace the great Michael Schumacher. Hamilton’s vacancy was filled by the bright young Sergio Perez, who was a hair’s-breadth from winning the Malaysian GP for Sauber last year. Of course, having driven with seven different team mates, Button takes changes such as these in his stride. “I had three fantastic seasons racing alongside Lewis, but nothing stays the same in Formula 1 and people move on.
It’s always interesting to have a new teammate – there’s that inevitable getting-to-know-you period when you’re settling in. But I’m really pleased to have Checo (Perez) at Vodafone McLaren. We all saw what he was capable of doing behind the wheel of a Sauber last year, and I think he’s a very good addition to this team,” he said during an interview with Mclaren.com. It hasn’t always been plain sailing for the former world champion, who was once branded a ‘phenomenon’ and likened to Ayrton Senna. The hype and expectations from the media lay heavily on his then 20-year-old shoulders. He developed a playboy reputation and reportedly lived a lavish lifestyle befitting golden boy James Hunt.
However, after joining Brawn GP in 2009, where he showed what he could do with a competitive car (winning six of the first seven races of the season and eventually claiming his maiden title), Button buttoned-up. In recent years, McLaren have struggled with reliability and pace in keeping up with Red Bull.
Despite this, Button consistently showed a newfound determination, often battling back from the back of the grid to claim much-needed podiums and showing his class in changeable weather conditions. With Hamilton’s departure, 2013 should see McLaren being able to put more time into Button’s car, and with the lack of rule changes this year, fans can expect the new car to improve in reliability and speed – improvements which were instantly shown at testing in Jerez, Spain, where he clockedup the ninth-fastest time on hard tyres, a result which shocked many.
So with all eyes on Button, will he prove the naysayers wrong and deliver a long-overdue title to McLaren – or will the team’s reliability issues haunt them for another season?