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McLaren confirm Alonso and Button for 2015

11 Dec 2014

Jenson Button will partner Fernando Alonso at McLaren next year, after the team announced the two former champions as their race drivers for the 2015 Formula One season on Thursday.

Kevin Magnussen, who drove alongside Button for what was his rookie campaign in 2014, will serve as McLaren’s test and reserve driver.

McLaren Group chairman and CEO Ron Dennis said a partnership of Button and Alonso - whose return to McLaren had been widely predicted following his departure from Ferrari - would drive the team forward for what will be the first year of their renewed partnership with Honda.

“McLaren’s policy has always been to assemble the strongest line-up possible, and in Fernando and Jenson I firmly believe that is exactly what we have,” said Dennis. “We signed Fernando a little while ago, but we decided not to announce the fact until we had also re-signed Jenson as his team mate.

“For many reasons our negotiations with Jenson took quite a long time, but, now that they have been concluded, we are confident that our collaboration with him will continue to thrive in the future every bit as well as it has in the past. Make no mistake about it, Jenson is 100 percent committed to McLaren-Honda, to Formula One, and to winning.

“As a pair, he and Fernando are supremely experienced. Fernando has started 234 Grands Prix, has converted 32 of those starts to victories, has stood on a Grand Prix podium 97 times, and has won the drivers’ world championship not once but twice. He is a class act.

“He is 33 - which, for an athlete as physically fit as he is, constitutes a Formula One driver’s professional prime of life. Moreover, he is old enough to be experienced and expert, yet young enough to be enthusiastic and energetic. I therefore firmly believe he will deploy those four e’s - experience, expertise, enthusiasm and energy - to drive forward McLaren-Honda’s on-track success next season and for quite a few seasons to come.”

Alonso said he was delighted to finally confirm his switch from Ferrari to McLaren, for whom he previously contested the 2007 season.

“I am joining this project with enormous enthusiasm and determination, knowing that it may require some time to achieve the results we are aiming for, which is no problem for me,” commented the Spaniard. “Over the past year I have received several offers, some of them really tempting, given the current performance of some of the teams that showed interest. But, more than a year ago, McLaren-Honda contacted me and asked me to take part, in a very active way, in the return of their partnership - a partnership that dominated the Formula One scene for so long.

“McLaren-Honda’s repeated and open desire, perseverance and determination in making it possible for me to join their exciting renewed partnership, have been some of the main factors that made me take this decision, not forgetting the most important factor of all: we share a common objective and expectations, and there is a very solid future, with confidence, ahead.

“I have had in-depth discussions with all the senior people at both McLaren and Honda, I have viewed their fantastic facilities in both the UK and Japan, and it is clear to me that, together, McLaren and Honda are in the process of beginning what is sure to be a long and successful partnership. And I intend to give 100 percent effort to help make it exactly that.”

Button said he was excited to line up for what will be his 16th F1 season. The Briton had been vying with Magnussen for the right to partner Alonso. The two were evenly matched for pure pace in 2014, with Button out-qualifying the Danish rookie 10-9. The Briton had a more pronounced advantage in the races, however, scoring twice as many points over the season.

“Like Fernando, I am certain that McLaren and Honda will achieve great things together, and I feel sure that, working together, all of us will pull incredibly hard to create a brilliantly effective winning team,” commented Button, who drove for the Japanese company’s former works team earlier in his F1 career.

“I admired Ayrton Senna enormously, but, for me, it was the exploits of his McLaren-Honda team-mate Alain Prost that inspired me most as a boy. The way he stroked those beautifully brutal red-and-white cars to grand prix wins and world championships was to my mind poetry in motion, and I have tried to emulate his driving style ever since.

“Being a part of new-look McLaren-Honda is a wonderful opportunity for all of us, and I am very pleased to have been invited to do my bit. In fact, I am absolutely raring to go. I am also very glad that Kevin will remain part of the team. He is a very quick driver and a really nice guy.

“Looking forward, I know the Honda guys well, having driven Formula One cars powered by their engines from 2003 to 2008. I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for them, and promise to give 100 percent to make their partnership with McLaren a success.

“Last but far from least, I am very much looking forward to having a driver as fast and as experienced as Fernando as my team mate. I am sure we will work extremely well together.”