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Pre-Silverstone analysis - Button and Wolff under the spotlight

04 Jul 2014

Jenson Button insists that he is relaxed about the prospect of not concluding a new deal with McLaren until later in the year, but made a terse response yesterday to quotes attributed to team chief Ron Dennis following the Austrian Grand Prix that he needs to “try harder” after finishing only 11th as rookie team mate Kevin Magnussen took seventh.

Dennis had suggested that while both drivers were giving their best, the young Dane had been a wake-up call for Button as he was keeping him under pressure and on his toes and was therefore a good choice. But he added: “In other ways you say: 'Come on Jenson, you are a world champion and absolutely one thing you can do on a consistent basis - and you should be doing it - is beating your team-mate.' Do I want him to try harder? Of course I do. He's a highly paid Grand Prix driver."

“I think Ron’s practising to be a motivational speaker, maybe,” Button said. “I think when we’re in the position that we have been in for 18 months, it’s not easy for anyone within the team. It’s very, very difficult. So, no, I think we all need to work harder as a team. I don’t think we should be pointing a finger at any individual within the team. I think we’ve got ourselves into this situation and we’ve got to fight our way out. I don’t do things in half-measures. I have the experience in Formula One to know that you need to give 100 percent and I always do every time I’m in the paddock, at the factory, on the phone to my engineers. Everything is 100 percent.”

This will be an emotional home Grand Prix for Button. Already Silverstone is populated with many fans who responded to his request to wear special pink tee-shirts to commemorate his hugely popular father John who died in January. But he insisted that he is more concerned about getting the job done right now than worrying too much about what 2015 might bring. "The whole team are working every day to do a better job. We are not where we want to be, not where McLaren is used to being. But in terms of the future it’s something I can’t discuss right now."

McLaren aren’t expecting to be hugely competitive here with their relative lack of downforce; both they and Ferrari are looking over their shoulders at the others in the close midfield fight: notably Williams, Force India, Red Bull and possibly Toro Rosso.

Susie Wolff will today have the most important day of her Williams career after the test she did for the team here last season and the other in Barcelona recently, in which she acquitted herself honourably, as she becomes the first female driver to participate in an official FIA Formula One World Championship meeting since Giovanna Amati failed to qualify a Brabham as team mate to Damon Hill at Interlagos in 1992. She will drive Valtteri Bottas’s FW36 in this morning’s practice session.

“I’ve been training very hard for this for the past few months,” Wolff said yesterday, “I’m focused completely on doing the best possible job that I can for the team.”

Yesterday she received strong support from her Finnish team mate, as well as from pre-race favourite Lewis Hamilton.

“She’s already been with Williams quite a bit doing development work in the simulator and did a test after Barcelona,” Bottas said. “I think it’s really nice to see her getting the opportunity to drive in the race weekend in FP1.”

“I didn’t race against many girls on my way up,” Hamilton said. “Susie was one of the very few, if not the only one. I saw her in karting but she was always in the class above me and then we raced Formula Renault together. She was great. We shared a podium together a couple of times. I think she’s done remarkably well in her career. She’s very, very talented, so I’m happy for her. It’s going to be really cool, I think, to see her in a Formula One car tomorrow.”

Button added: “First of all it’s good that it’s Silverstone. She knows this circuit well, which is a positive thing. Jumping into a Formula One car, I’m sure she’ll feel a little bit of the pressure in front of the home crowd, but she’s been working with Williams for quite a while so I’m guessing she knows the ins and outs of the car and the team. It’ll be good to see her on track tomorrow.”

Hamilton, meanwhile, prepares for the crucial first part of his campaign to get back to the top step of the podium against Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg and spoke quietly of his determination to do his best this weekend, especially in the wake of England’s recent footballing failure in the World Cup and British tennis player Andy Murray’s abrupt departure from Wimbledon.

“I had the advantage for a few races and Nico’s had that for at least the last couple,” he said. “But now this is the British Grand Prix, I’m going to do everything that I can to be out in front and represent the country. When it’s your home Grand Prix, it’s one of the greatest experiences you can ever have as a sportsman and as a driver, so that’s what I’m working towards this weekend.”