Similarities to Senna in “intelligent” Button – Dennis

2014 F1 season

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Ron Dennis says Jenson Button has traits that reminds him of Ayrton Senna. But he singled out Button’s intelligence as his key weapon for the coming season.

“In many ways there are similarities between Ayrton and Jenson,” Dennis said at a media event at the McLaren Technology Centre.

“He is an incredibly good human being. He has principles and values. The way that he conducts his life and his relationship with his team is right up there with some of the other great drivers who have been with us.”

“He’s dedicated,” Dennis added. “I don’t think anybody has better physical condition than him.”

The McLaren group CEO believes Button is particularly well-suited to the complex demands of the new generation of Formula One engines.

“He’s intelligent. Intelligence is going to become an absolute pre-requisite with the complications the drivers have to cope with in the car – the fuel management and tyre management, understanding the control systems, the KERS and ERS, it is going to require brainpower and dedication.”

“I’m extremely optimistic and I think he will be an incredible mentor to Kevin [Magnussen]” Dennis concluded.

Dennis admitted he had “reservations” about promoting rookie Magnussen to McLaren’s race team. “I’m not a great believer in sons of drivers.”

Magnussen’s father Jan made a one-off start for McLaren in the 1995 Pacific Grand Prix. “Jan was a little bit untidy,” said Dennis. “He quite did my head in sometimes.”

But the younger driver’s performance in a test at Silverstone last year helped sway Dennis. “He will have an exceptional career, I’m sure of that. He’s got a steely determination. I don’t think he’s going to give when he gets a few knocks.”

“He’s certainly going to keep Jenson honest, that’s for sure.”

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Keith Collantine
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74 comments on “Similarities to Senna in “intelligent” Button – Dennis”

  1. Couldn`t disagree more .

    1. I came here to say this.

    2. +1
      I couldn’t think of two dissimilar drivers.

    3. I think Ron Dennis is better equipped to make such statements than we are. He’s actually interacted with both drivers.

      1. very true parazar, it`s only my opinion tho.

      2. … Or maybe Ron continues to try to save face.

      3. That’s like saying Bernie knows what’s best for F1 because he’s been around it longer and involved directly. It may be true, but I don’t agree with most of what he says either.

    4. @mr-rossi What’s your basis for saying that? I can’t find an issue with what Ron has said about the two.

      1. My basis for saying i disagree? In my view , as much as i like jenson as a person,yes he`s intelligent etc. etc. but who in the top half of the grid isn`t , he`s just not in the same league as Ayrton was.

        1. only similarities… he didn’t say they are the same…

        2. in another way you can also say that past chapions didn’t such competitive plateau as now… It doesn’t take anything away from them, just to put things into perspective.
          Anyway, I’ve always hated when they try to compare era’s it can’t be done. At best you can compare 2 drivers on the same period but yet again, everyone is unique as well as every situation

    5. Jeez guys… Is there any mention of a comparison in speed/technique between Ayrton and Jenson? No, Dennis was clearly pointing out the personal and mental side of both drivers. It’s well know Ayrton was very giving caring person and Jenson has similar traits in that respect.

      Of course they’re nothing like when it comes to driving styles. But Jenson is probably the nicest guy on the grid, easy.

      1. Senna was one of the first drivers to spend loads of hours training in a gym to get fit and Button likes it too, but it’s common to most drivers this day. Ron points out Jenson’s intelligence but I don’t think is that way above the average to make a huge difference in that department.

        On being teh nicest guy maybe.

      2. Amen to that. All the points Ron has pointed out are whats relevant, not what you all think he’s comparing trait wise between the two. Stop reading beyond what he’s saying for once, his points are extremely valid.

    6. I think Button is the worst Driver in decades. If the balance of the car does not suit his driving style he just gives up.

      1. Waw, “worst” ??? That’s a bit too far don’t you think ?

      2. @bukester The worst driver in decades won a world championship?

    7. I dunno, they both made pretty great tyre choices in races. Button has become fame for picking the right tyre at the right time, and I don’t know about Senna, but his Donnington ’93 win was a case of loads of tyre changes to make sure he was always on the right one.

  2. Couldn’t agree more.

    1. Jan (@yancheelaa)
      7th March 2014, 10:59


    2. Button is head and shoulders above most other drivers in the paddock in terms of being intelligent about what he does. Not that it’ll save him from all trouble, it won’t, but it’s easy to see the disparity.

      Button is just the master, but to compare it to Senna, I don’t think Senna had the same kind of intelligence. Dedication, sure, but I think in terms of Intelligence Button is closer to Prost that to Senna.

      1. Exactly. Senna is much more like a Hamilton – incredibly fast over one lap, but prone to lapses. Hamilton’s last lap crash at Monza in 2009, trying to catch the Brawns when it was never going to happen, reminded me a lot of Senna’s famous Monaco crash when leading by a huge margin – both should never have happened but were caused by these drivers needlessly pushing too hard. It’s hard to imagine that happening with Button.

        Senna was also extremely aggressive in the car. Button has become more aggressive over the years, but he’s nowhere near the level of Senna.

        As for comparing them as people, they may have been similar in conversation (I don’t see it) but their lifestyles seem quite different. Jenson does a lot of charity work; Senna has a posthumous charity named after him, but did little (nothing notable?) while he was alive. Jenson is a triathete and enjoys pushing himself; Senna enjoyed fishing and model planes.

  3. Interesting Dennis said nothing at all about Button’s pace.

    1. That’s what they have Kevin for :-)

    2. I think Dennis forgot to mention that Jenson lacks the 3 og the biggest strengths of Ayrton – Phenomenal pace, consistently fast performances and a pure racers instinct.

      If you ask me, Dennis highlighted a few of the traits that made Prost a really good driver – racing intellect and race management. And let’s face it , Jenson isn’t half as intelligent as Prost was.

      Honestly, I don’t think anyone could take these words from Ron seriously… including Jenson himself

      1. and a pure racers instinct

        I don’t know, I’ve seen Button do some pretty great racing through his career. I agree about the others though, and that Button probably is generally more of a match for Prost.

        1. @matt90

          I agree about the others though, and that Button probably is generally more of a match for Prost.

          I couldn’t disagree more. Prost was miles ahead of Button as a driver. In fact, Prost was probably a better driver than Vettel is today. Prost won a championship with the clear 2nd best car in 1986. Something that Button could never even come close to achieving.

          1. By match I meant in terms of what their strengths were. I agree that Prost was far better.

        2. @matt90
          Prost was the only driver who could beat Senna in the same car, maybe he was not as quick as Ayrton who is considered the fastest ever man in F1 in qualifying but that doesn’t make him slow either

          1. @tifoso1989
            I never said he was.

      2. I agree, a Prost Button comparison would make more sense

  4. There was no mention of Button’s actual pace. And despite comparing him to Senna and being complimentary, I’m not convinced Button has Dennis’ full backing. Watch this space, I suppose…

    1. He did actually. “Intelligence is going to become an absolute pre-requisite to cope with the complications drivers have in the car, the fuel management and tyre management…it is going to require brainpower and dedication,” he added.

      “And then he’s quick. He is capable of winning races and world championships…I’m extremely optimistic and I think he will be an incredible mentor to Kevin.”

      1. “I’m extremely optimistic and I think he will be a top contender for the title” is what he would of said of senna-not “he will be an incredible mentor for his team mate”

        1. “And then he’s quick. He is capable of winning races and world championships…I’m extremely optimistic and…”

          1. Where does it say that jens is capable of winning races and world championships in the above article?

      2. Fair enough.

      3. Winning world championships? In plural? The only reason he has his is because of Brawn’s rocketship (otherwise Vettel could be sitting at 5 too).

        1. And Vettel won his titles on Red Bull’s rocketship…

          1. And Senna won all of his titles in a McLaren rocketship.

        2. The Red Bull in ’09 was also something of a rocketship, and had a much more linear development.

        3. OmarR-Pepper (@)
          8th March 2014, 23:38

          And so on… until we realize Fangio won in the best rocketships…

          1. Exactly, the best drivers get the best cars, strange that.

    2. My thoughts exactly. Having raised Hamilton, Dennis is clearly aware that Button doesn’t have championship winning pace unless in a much faster car. It seems to me like he’s basically said “Jenson’s role is to bring up Kevin to be the future Lewis.”

      1. Dennis is clearly aware that…

        I’d be a bit careful about claiming what Dennis is aware of or not.

  5. Maybe I am wrong but isn’t Button more similar to Prost?

    1. Maybe Button is at Sennas level of intelligence, but not pace, and neither category when compared to Prost.

    2. In terms of Driving style he is, though its not exactly true if you compare the McLarens of the 80s and todays.

  6. Translation — “In many ways Button reminds me of Senna… except for driving”.

  7. Couldn’t disagree more.

  8. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    7th March 2014, 8:20

    Hang on, one is the finest qualifying driver of all time, whilst the other couldn’t outqualify Sergio Perez over a season – and Perez in 2012 claimed that qualifying had always been where he’d struggled. If you’ve got one of the most methodical, tactical and intelligent racers ever in the shape of Prost as part of your history, why is Dennis not comparing Button to him? Oh, right, he’s being political again…

    1. Maybe, unlike most Button haters/Hamilton fanboys, Dennis actually realises that the points are awarded on Sundays, not Saturdays…

      Exactly what good are pole positions if you can’t convert them? I know, let’s go ask Hamilton, seeing as how he loves getting pole positions but has one of the worst conversion rates on the grid.

      1. To be fair, he isn’t saying points aren’t awarded on Sundays. He’s making the point that Button would be more comparable to Prost than to Senna, correctly citing the difference in one-lap pace as one reason.

  9. he’s just instilling some much needed confidence in his drivers for the coming season, but I would put JB in the like Prost camp, not a camp Prost just to clarify.

  10. Quite funny this anti-Button stance from some of the readers here…
    The guy is world-champion (and the Brawn was not THAT much better than the rest in the 2nd half of the season, on the contrary). Many thought he would be “destroyed”/”demolished”/”annihilated” by Hamilton and he still managed to score more points than him.
    Give him a break.
    OK he may not be of the same material that makes legendary drivers, but seeing comments like “worst driver in decades” or “not worthy”, etc… laughable.

    About the comparison with Senna. There seems to be an unspoken rule, which is: no one is allowed to make any sort of parallel between AS and other drivers (except maybe for arch-nemesis Prost)
    There is the same sort of mentality on Youtube with Basketball players like Jordan/Bryant/James.

    My point is: these direct comparison are pointless ! How can one possibly know how AS would have fared these days ? How can one be sure of how JB would have done in the 80’s ? Strictly impossible, only conjectures.
    So let us praise AS as the greatest of his era, and JB as a very capable driver of ours…

    RD doesn’t compare driving styles (the machines are soooo different), he only draws similarity in their intelligence/kindness. To me that is perfectly valid.

    1. The guy is world-champion (and the Brawn was not THAT much better than the rest in the 2nd half of the season, on the contrary). Many thought he would be “destroyed”/”demolished”/”annihilated” by Hamilton and he still managed to score more points than him.

      Let’s not get started on this again.

      I think we all have fair opinions on just how good Jenson Button is

    2. Many thought he would be “destroyed”/”demolished”/”annihilated” by Hamilton and he still managed to score more points than him.

      I’ll refer you to this:
      Faster qualifying time: Hamilton 44 / Button 14
      Poles: Hamilton 9 / Button 1
      Front rows: Hamilton: 23 / Button 9

      Wins: Hamilton 10 / Button 8
      Podiums: Hamilton 22 / Button 25
      Points finishes: Hamilton 45 / Button 47
      DNFs: Hamilton 13 / Button 8
      Best race result (including DNFs): Hamilton 32 / Button 26
      Ahead in two-car finish: Hamilton 24 / Button 13

      Overall points: Hamilton 657 / Button 672
      Seasons finished higher in standings: Hamilton 2 / Button 1
      Highest championship placing: Hamilton 4th (2010, 2012) / Button 2nd (2011)

      1. Clear that JB is ahead where it counts. Surprising, thanks for the analysis.

  11. I really dislike Nico Rosberg. I just can’t connect with him. Everything the guys does irritates me. I think the fact the kid never really had to fight for anything in his life gets to me. It is not his fault though and he is a good driver, but I personally find hard to connect with someone who had it easy from the start.
    That’s my two cent about Rosberg.

    1. You can say Vettel has had it easy.. or maybe even Lewis, but Rosberg? I don’t even know what you’re talking about

      1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        9th March 2014, 0:10

        @todfod I guess he’s talking about the money. But the vast majority of drivers come from wealthy backgrounds. It’s because the nature of this sport is expensive.

        1. Yeah I meant his upbringing @todfod. But @omarr-pepper makes a valid point about most drivers coming from wealthy backgrounds because the sport is expensive. That is very true. For me it just seems that with Rosberg this aspect is a bit more pronounced. I am not hating on the kid, he is a good driver but not my cup of tea.

  12. There are similarities between any two drivers. There are also differences such as one being talented and one not so talented.

  13. For anybody who saw the whole media event it is clear that Ron doesn’t think much about Jenson. The comparison to Ayrton was just a way to throw a bone to media. He complimented Jenson about being intelligent, fit, a good human being… sure that’s all very nice, but he stopped short of saying he is a world beater and super quick, because JB isn’t really either of those things, is he? Ron sees it and that is bad news for Jenson. I think even Whitmarsh saw that, but he was such an incompetent, useless and gutless manager he didn’t have the b***s to do anything about it.

    1. That logic.

    2. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend

      You posted what Dennis thinks of Button, why Dennis says what he says, what Whitmarsh thinks of Button, why he didn’t fire him and even made a broad of judgement of Whitmarsh’s managing abbilities.

      Isn’t that a bit too much judgement passed, based on how little we know about either Dennis, Whitmarsh or McLaren’s internal organization?

    3. Ok why is everyone ignoring the second part of what he said about Jenson? Is it so strange that he may appreciate certain qualities in Jenson? The fact that he’s intelligent, has strong work ethic and a good relationship with the team. Anyway the interview in its entirety is here.

    4. I don’t see what the problem is, even Jenson knows he’s not the quickest. They can’t all be Sennas(or Vetttels,haha), and if Button was slow I doubt he would have been driving a mclaren longer than 3 years. Just because Ron says nothing about his speed doesn’t mean he doesn’t recognise Jenson’s strengths. He’s been in the business long enough.

  14. Outright pace won’t be a factor this year, yes great for qualifying, but finishing is the priority and i think JB is like Prost in a way, possibly like Senna in others, but his judgement of a given situation is probably better than that of say Grosjean or Perez.
    Given that he is smooth like Stewart, and probably more savvy than most with tyre wear…he stands a good chance of gaining podiums.

    1. You my friend, are completely wrong. It is car racing, outright pace is always a factor. It has to be, otherwise it is not car racing.

      1. was car racing!

  15. What you say, Ron!

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