Jenson Button, speaking at this week’s Autosport International Racing Car Show, has said that his chances of winning a second Formula 1 world championship in 2010 are greater with McLaren than they would have been had he stayed at Brawn/Mercedes. Button took his first title with the Brackley-based squad in 2009, and had been with that team, in its various iterations (i.e. BAR, Honda and Brawn) for seven years.
“If I was at Brawn still, I would go into the season positive, but not as positive as I am now,” Button said. “I have been working very, very hard all winter on many, many things to do with fitness, mental attitude – and on January 1, I started working on being a McLaren driver. It means a lot to me because my first drive in an F1 car was in a McLaren young driver test after winning the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award in 1999.”
Button went on to describe some of the pre-season preparations he’d been making with his new team at McLaren’s Technology Center in Woking. “I have spent some time at the factory in the simulator, with the engineers, and it is going very well,” Button said. “The two guys I have got looking after me, who are working with me, have been great. They know this is a difficult switch for me, a difficult change, but they have been very good. They are very hungry to succeed this year – which is exactly what I am. It is a good partnership.”
Button also said that he is honestly optimistic about his working relationship with Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 world champ. “I am really looking forward to the partnership with Lewis. That is the truth – from the bottom of my heart. We can work very well together and we can, as a team, fight for the world championship together. And us two together is a much stronger team than us in separate teams. When we get to the end of the year we will see. But, at the moment, we will work together and there is no reason to say I am going to beat him, or he is going to beat me.”
Button also refused to join the skeptics who have raised public doubts about Michael Schumacher’s ability to recapture his old form, as he comes back to add another chapter to his already illustrious career. “A few people have said he is 41 years old,” Button said. “Is he too old to be racing in F1 and has he lost it? I don’t think so. He has won more world championships than anyone. He will be competitive. He is not a silly guy. He won’t be coming back to F1 to be slow – he is going to be competitive and he will be ready for the first race. And I hope so. It will be great if Michael is fighting it out at the front.”
Button was also upbeat about the what a Schumacher return would mean to the sport in general. “It is really good for F1,” he said, “and it will bring a few fans back that maybe left when Michael did. And it is made for the best season in F1 I think – ever. I really do think that. It is going to be such a competitive season. You have got four world champions – one guy that missed out by one point and a few very, very talented people. It is exciting. New teams. New drivers. It is great.”
(Image source: AutoMoto TV)