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McLaren: Button crucial to team's future development 05 Oct 2011

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/26 looks at FanVision.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Friday, 6 May 2011 Podium (L to R): Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren and Paddy Lowe (GBR) McLaren celebrate.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 12 June 2011 Race winner Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/26 celebrates in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, 31 July 2011

McLaren’s new deal with Jenson Button will play a key role in ensuring the success of the team’s cars in the coming seasons, particularly with the approach of an all-new engine formula for 2014. That is the view of McLaren’s technical director Paddy Lowe.

“Having a good driver with good feedback is still essential in Formula One,” said Lowe, speaking in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Phone-In. “Even though these days we have far more tools to work with offline - more simulation, etc. - we’re still very reliant on the driver’s feedback and his responses to the changes we make, and indeed his suggestions for changes to make.

“Having Jenson on board for the years to come is a great step for us as it gives us a very solid base in terms of a driver that we can rely on for feedback through that phases that you described. And Jenson was obviously very experienced for many years before he came to McLaren, so that all contributes.”

Having trailed team mate Lewis Hamilton during his first season with McLaren in 2010, Button has turned things around this year and is currently second in the standing’s to Hamilton’s fifth. Lowe refused to be drawn on his drivers’ relative technical contributions, but admitted the team have welcomed the new, more aggressive edge to Button’s driving.

“We don’t consider either driver better or worse,” he insisted. “I think that they’re both brilliant, they’re both world champions. They have different styles. I think what’s been really nice to see with Jenson is that certainly in the last half season he’s been driving in a way that has surprised us.

“His classic driving approach has been to be very smooth and solid and scoring the points, whereas what he’s actually done is to deliver some fantastic races. And some of the most exciting overtaking manoeuvres that we’ve seen all season have come from Jenson and that’s been great to see - and I think he’s really enjoyed doing it!”

Those passing moves have helped make Button the only man who can prevent Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel becoming 2011 world champion in Japan this weekend. To keep his title hopes alive, Button must win at Suzuka, with Vettel failing to score.

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