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Button: 'Dennis will drive McLaren'

2014-01-27 06:55


GOOD THINGS COMING? McLaren’s Jenson Button is thrilled about Ron Dennis being back as the team's principal. Image: AFP

LONDON, England - The return of former principal Ron Dennis to a more hands-on role at McLaren will boost the hurting Formula 1 team during the 2014 season, Jenson Button has said.

Dennis ousted Martin Whitmarsh as group chief executive earlier in January, 2013 with the latter now expected to vacate the role of team principal as well before the season opens in Australia in March.


McLaren presented its MP4-29 car online on January 24 with Whitmarsh conspicuous by his absence. Senior management made clear that Dennis, who ran the team from 1982 to 2009, was again calling the shots and Button said he was excited by the prospect.

Button, who won his 2009 title with Brawn GP, said: "I've spoken to Ron a lot over the last few days...he is very excited about his role and he is very hungry."

Dennis presided over some of the team's greatest years with Brazilian Ayrton Senna and Frenchman Alain Prost and Button said that history was another strength, adding: "He's a true racer, he's a true fighter and he really has built up this team over the years.It's good for the team, it's good for Ron that he has the chance to really drive this team on again.

"Everyone here is excited about the challenge of 2014 with Ron in charge."


McLaren needs to move up a gear after a dismal 2013 without a podium finish, its  worst performance since 1980, that saw the former champion team finish fifth overall in the Constructors' standings.

While Dennis has resumed overall control, he is not expected to take on the active role of principal on the pit wall. Frenchman Eric Boullier, replaced as Lotus principal on January 24, is now seen as a likely candidate. Button said he was aware of the rumours but did not know any more about the situation.


Managing director Jonathan Neale, who worked closely with Dennis in the past, said the 66-year-old - a company shareholder whose main focus in recent years has been developing McLaren's sports car business - had lost none of his energy.

"For those who know Ron, he is as fired-up as he ever has been, probably more passionate now than ever. If ever there was somebody who had a very strong vision and a sense of true worth and how it is to win in F1 and why that is important, he has got it in spades.

"It's exciting times."

Button is still coming to terms with the sudden death of his father John, a constant companion on the circuit, and the loss was still too raw for him to talk about. He said everything had gone through his mind, including taking time out from F1, but he was now looking forward to racing again.

"It is going to be a challenge for us all with the regulations but it is an exciting challenge and there is so much for us to learn still," Button added. "So I am looking forward to a year where I am going to put everything into this sport and leave nothing on the table. I am looking forward to getting on with it next week."

Testing starts at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain on Tuesday (Jan 28), with Button in the car for the first two days. He said of a season that sees major technical changes including the introduction of a new V6 turbocharged engine with energy recovery systems: "I think every single person in F1 is sitting on the edge of the unknown.

"There will be lots of things going through my mind when I settle myself into the cockpit for the first time in Jerez."

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 F1 season – fresh reports every day.

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