Button: We are definitely title contenders next year, but It’s not going to be easy
27 November, 2013
Jenson Button endured in 2013, the kind of season at McLaren which must have conjured up memories of his days of frustration at Honda, but despite this the 2009 World Champion is confident that in 2014 the team will enjoy a reversal of fortunes.
Shortly after finishing fourth in Brazil, Button and his team’s best result of the year, he declared to English media, “We are definitely title contenders next year. So are Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.If you look at 2010, with two races to go I was out of the Championship but Lewis was still in it. In 2011, we got beaten by one person in a Red Bull, so we were very close to the top. So it’s definitely there. It’s not going to be easy, of course.”
It’s a questionable prediction from Button who, in January this year, said of the McLaren MP4-28, “This year’s car is the best we’ve ever made – I know [that] the engineers have left absolutely no stone unturned in wringing every ounce of performance from every available area.”
A month later he said, “In terms of the car itself – the MP4-28 – it’s very good. We have had a few issues which have set us back a little bit, but I feel that the car in Melbourne will be strong.”
At the season opener in Australia Button qualified tenth and finished ninth – it did not get any better thereafter as McLaren endured their worst season since 1980, a year in which they also failed to score a podium finish.
“We’ve learnt a lot this year. We’ve also [experimented] more than normal. If you’re in a Championship-fighting car you’re scared to get away from the set-up you know. We’ve been places that we would never have thought of in the past. That has really helped us. Everyone is excited about next year. Changes are great for everyone apart from Red Bull,” ventured the 2009 World Champion.
“I went over the finish line [in Brazil] with a smile on my face. It was a positive way to end the year, but McLaren [is] about winning.”
“We’re fighting Red Bull, who have done an amazing job over the past four years. But there’s a good atmosphere in the team and there’s definitely not anybody in the team who thinks it can’t happen next year,” said the 33 year old Englishman who made his F1 debut at the 2000 Australian Grand Prix.
Next year Button will be joined at McLaren by highly rated youngster Kevin Magnussen, who replaces Sergio Perez in the team. (GP247)
Subbed by AJN.