Button surprised by mid-season change of engineers

2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Jenson Button said a mid-season change of race engineers made for a “tricky” phase in his campaign this year.

“I’ve had a good end of the year,” Button told reporters after the final race of the season. “Start of the year was great, middle of the year a little bit tricky – had a lot changing in terms of my engineers, were changed during the season.”

“Worked with Dave [Robson] so many years and I had a good partnership. That was a bit of a surprise but now I feel we’re on top of that and Tom [Stallard] and Bernie [Collins] are doing a great job. It just always takes a bit of bonding and what have you but it’s great now.”

Button finished fifth in Abu Dhabi – which turned out to be a crucial result as he was followed home by the two Force Indias, who were McLaren’s closest championship rivals.

“It’s all the car would give me,” said Button. “I finished fifth and I think that’s as much as the car was going to do. Luckily we finished fifth because we would have lost out in the constructors’ championship to Force India.”

However it remains to be seen whether Button, currently F1’s most experienced driver, will be retained by McLaren next year. “A perfect way to end the season,” he concluded, adding, “hopefully it’s not my last”.

2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
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    34 comments on “Button surprised by mid-season change of engineers”

    1. A few races ago I wanted Magnussen to be at Mclaren next season but since then I think Jenson has well and truly proven that he deserves the place for next season and I will be thoroughly disappointed if we don’t see him again at Melbourne.

      1. +++1 He won team battle with considerable margin in points and raised his game very much on saturdays. He in basic saved Mclaren 5th in championship and milions in cash.

        1. @dex022 +1

          Exactly my thoughts. Not sure how one would get rid of a driver who just saved your bacon and millions in cash. Maybe Ron Dennis will show us how that is done or maybe not. We shall see.

          Nothing against Kevin Magnussen, but it seems clear that at this stage of the game (getting ready for 2015) Button is the better driver. If McLaren can’t find a team to farm KMag to for a season, keep him as test driver. This will help him keep his hands on the new McLaren/Honda and get him ready for 2016.

          1. My thoughts also with one exception.
            If Button/Alonso get drive and good car and they are similar on pace i still don’t see any reason why to give Magnusen drive for 2016.If Button fares good with Alonso and i have no doubt he will if he gets drive,why again would someone hire Magnusen just because of his age???He was not match for Button this year at any level except on saturdays and even that was in Buttons favor in the end especially last 6-7 races.If Magnusen manage to do Hamilton2007 and to match his team mate i would say keep him,but he was not even close and frankly i don’t see any mega talent in him based on this year performance.Button can drive next 3 years at top level for sure.How old was Mansell when he won in 92′? 39 years old!!! Button is famous for his fitness and given a proper car he can drive on top level for sure for much more then 2015 season.

            1. @dex022 – I can agree with that too. No doubt Button is in better condition fitness-wise than Mansell at the same age. My thought was to give Button at least one more season as opposed to unceremoniously dumping him after the 2014 campaign he has had. Then all parties involved can make plans for 2016 whatever that be. I see no signs Button is off his game at all. It would be respectful for him to have more say in when he retires whenever that may be.

              I really believe the biggest gamble McLaren can make for 2015 is to keep Magnussen and not have Button on their team. It could be Alonso prefers a #1 status or weaker team mate by default and is making demands to that effect before signing. Or, maybe Honda is influencing McLaren’s decision in one way or another. I think Magnussen has shown moments of brilliance and is a promising young driver. The big gamble is whether he can ever reach Button’s level and if so, when. Proven vs. maybe. Should be an easy choice.

          2. maybe because by kicking button, they save even more millions! i do want Button to be Alonso teammate next year, but i think the chances are rather slims…

            1. And who saved “few” millions this year and even this race for 5th in constructors championship?If Magnussen was any close to hype around him and actually score more points Mclaren would be ahead of Ferrari.How much more money is that?Frankly Magnussen is huge disapointment for me this year and he just don’t deserve that seat.Button even said that money is not big issue cause he already has tons of it.He said that he ofc wants to be paid but first thing is that he still wants to drive in F1 then come money.
              If they are ditching him and he somehow new that before last race i would personally park car just before final flag just to stick it to Dennis and let F.India take 5th place in constructors. But that would be me….Button is too professional to do that. :)

            2. burro-magnifico
              23rd November 2014, 21:21


              You should also remember that this is Magnussen’s first year on Pirelli tires. Even though they’re a good deal more durable than last year’s spec, you don’t see any other race series where the tires are so temperamental.

            3. Perez did better vs Button than Magnussen did… Also, Perez’s year vs Hulkenberg and Rosberg vs Hamilton shows IMO that there is very little between the top 8-12 drivers in the sport… Ron Dennis saud 8 drivers could have won the WDC in a Merc this year — presumably he woudl count button amongst them. What you need if you’re a top 5 team in F1 is two solid drivers that can maximise points. I would argue that Button deserves a spot either at McLaren or surely had a better year than Kimi or Felipe. It would be a shame if he had to go to another series.

      2. +2,000,000

    2. Button scored well ahead this year of the Force India cars. KMag was behind both of them.

      And yet Button is not fast enough they say.

    3. Cross-post; (my last of the day, promised)
      Button vs Magnussen
      126 points vs 55 points
      70% vs 30% of the teams points
      JB has beaten KM 15 out of 19 times(or 18 if you take JBs technical DNF into account)

      He always goes so quietly about his business, it’s easy to miss what a superb job he does.
      A shame that he was not even given the respect he deserved if this really was his last GP. Shame on you, Ron and Eric. Jenson deserves much better after 15 years in the sport.

      1. Button deserves much better, because he has been loyal to the team. The first 3 years in McLaren he had been a good match for LH…Without moaning(like Alonso), he just worked hard and tried for the best. The last 2 years, the team gave him awful cars…Again he never moaned, he tried hard and outscored his team-mates…Can’t he drive the car over the limit like Alonso does? OK he can’t…But he can achieve better than other candidates for one McLaren seat. As a McLaren fan I ‘m not a fan of Alonso(after what happened in 2007). Honda and Dennis want him back. I accept it for the good of the team, but Button should retain his seat..He has been a loyal McLaren “soldier”.

      2. @lexblair, I get the impression McLaren is split; Eric is fighting for JB, but Ron wants new blood.

        There was an interview with Eric where he let slip that it was very good news JB finished in front of KM.

    4. Whenever the topic of his future is raised in interviews Jenson seems almost offended, probably because it shouldn’t be an issue. He is by far the best performing driver in the team and his fitness is incredible. He’s a lot like Mark Webber except with more experience, a world champion, and crucially he’s just a better driver. It would be absolute madness for McLaren to lose him.

      Plus, he’s proven that he gets on very well with a top driver as a teammate, I can see him and Alonso being quite a strong team since Button will let Alonso feel like the no1 driver and have all the ego he wants.

    5. Give button the car to compete and he will. He had an awesome brawn and won a championship. Had a passable car in canada in 2011 was at the back of the grid twice, 5 pitstops and 2 minor crashes and still put vettel under that much pressure he folded. Best drive for decades

    6. Are there any official figures for how much prize money Jenson has won for McLaren with his points tally?

      I’m guessing it’s a bit more than his wage next year?

    7. I really hope that he stays for another season to partner Alonso. He’s the card to a top 3 constructor championship finish for next year, because Alonso alone cannot do it. They need a safe pair of hands and I’m not sure if Kevin (or Stoffel) can bring that sort of consistency.

      He’s still properly fast, and it’d be a lot better if he was the one deciding when to stop, like Webber, rather than getting the boot.

    8. Last race of J. Button in F1. Sorry for him, but he deserved that world championship he won. And Alonso shouldnt have been a chicken and fight with Button from in equal conditions. But he chose the easy option one time more, like when he arrived to Ferrari that he kicked Kimi, when he arrived Renault he kicked Kovalainen, when he arrived McLaren he recommended De la Rosa and didnt want Hamilton as partner… Alonso always will be remember, for not competing top level teammates in equal conditions. Very coward really, while Hamilton never censored a teammate in his team. He battled Alonso, Kovalainen, Button, Rosberg. Top drivers as teammate. Honestly Magnussen will have serious bad time with Alonso as teammate, he is very well known as destroyer of young prospects in f1. Piquet, Grosjean, Perez, and in future Magnussen.

    9. Ron has never rated Jenson. And to be fair if you account for the extraneous issues Lewis toasted him by well over 100 points in 2012. Even in 2011 JB only outpaced LH in 3 races. IMO the JB/Whitmarsh axis was part of why Ron kicked Whitmarsh out. But KMag isn’t looking that special after all, so Ron is stuck.

      Who do you put alongside Alonso? He’s buried Massa and Kimi. Massa in turn is doing pretty well against the fancied Bottas. Vandoorne? He wasn’t that standout in the sprint race was he?

      But I think Ron is clinging to the hope Stoffel might be special, while he sees what he’s got in the test. Or maybe a Danish sponsor could save Kevin’s bacon.

      But personally I’d keep Jenson for a year. I suspect he and Nando would like the same setups, and they’d be good for each other – JB’s natural pace and FA’s awesome intensity.

      1. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
        23rd November 2014, 20:00

        Problem as I see it, is that Lewis has two characteristics that favour over other drivers :

        1) Political clout (Spa 2014, through 2007, Monaco Ali G comments) that make him appear as loud mouthed as J. Villeneuve & Eddie Irvine combined… because he has a dangerous tongue this poses issues when things aren’t going his way & he gets people onside with “poor me” and crafty political manoeuvring. Which as unpleasant as it seems to “the good guys”- this is actually a strength he uses well.

        2) Adaptable in the responds well to dynamic changes in car handling traits… which means he is probably running @ 8.5/10ths of max performance at all times. So, against Jenson, Hamilton was able to adapt more consistently to varying handling traits than Jenson was. Which meant that he was perceived to be a “faster” or “better” driver than Jenson.

        Now, on the days where the car was equally balanced and did not have unpredictable pitch & yaw and chronic understeer & overseer, Jenson utterly annihilated Hamilton- to embarrassing degrees.

        When Button has the car to his liking, he is head and shoulders above everyone. Given the Merc of 2014 and pitched against Alonso or Hamilton in the same team, I believe firmly that Jenson would’ve been crowned double champion 3 or 4 races ago… such is the dominance he can have over his teammates. He is just awesome.

        I think that the raw speed Jenson has, is higher than anyone else on the grid- he just needs a sweetspot to make best use of it. I recall Spanish GP 2009 when Rubens should’ve had the race sewn up, but Jenson was reminiscent of Schumacher, taking different lines, changing his style to suit the car etc and he won much to everyone’s amazement – it had shades of Schumacher in Hungary 1998 (one of the single most awesome drives ever).

        All Jenson needs now is a car capable of winning and the fire in his eyes will re-ignite and he will dominate. Even with Alonso alongside… what a formidable partnership Jenson & Alonso would make!

        Problem is, that some shareholders

        1. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
          23rd November 2014, 20:01

          ^^^don’t see how good Jenson is/can be & may have vested interests elsewhere…

        2. Lol at JB embarrassing Lewis? Haha

    10. Fritz Oosthuizen
      23rd November 2014, 19:44

      As I said before. Ron Dennis don’t respect any drivers at mclaren only Mika and Senna received respect the rest where pawns.

    11. Fans and Viewers don’t view from RonDennis[Businessman’s] perspective, he’s running a business. It’s just like hiring a new entry-level employee and training him under whatever experts/senior/veterans you have, Magnussen got exposure with JB, and Ron would want him to have another year with Alonso. It’s a long term investement kinda. It’s cheaper, and since you already have one very experienced employee(referring to Fernando) you wouldn’t want to keep another such guy. Although such combination is good but they’ve already got blows managing 2007, and 1988.
      It’s wrong to compare JB & Magn, Magn is a rookie and JB has been there in 15 years. Do you compare a fresher who’s doing a job for less pay with 10+ year exp guy in a same company doing a similar job? You don’t! On the other hand, if the fresher does a competitive job compared to your experienced employee, you’d be amazed and surprised, and a bonus.
      So, as much as I would want JB to be in F1, Him and Alonso should have been already paired up earlier in their careers. But one strategy would be give JB 1 more year and develop McLaren with Alonso, and bring in younger guys later. Other strategy to run a team/business, is get the young guy go through development process, learn as much as he can from the experience, meanwhile heavy input from Alonso, RB has proved, hiring younger guys (esp from your own development program) works! and that’s how it should be.
      We guys just think from our fanbase, and entertainment purposes, and guys who we’ve been seeing for years, etc. But the guys running the business see’s from very different perspective.
      YOu cannot judge a driver (rookie) in just one year, in such case what was ricciardo after 1 year? JB can have many options in life and have earned fame and money and glory etc, MAG is just beginning his career. F1 is an “entertainment business”. RB are really good in their driver program flow although they’re getting more and more young talented drivers. They have a very neat decision and workflow, they give chance (Buemi, Alguasari, Vergne, etc). Never did they hire an already WDC. Their decision not to hire Kimi was good for them, (although not good for Kimi). Their decision not to look for anyone else when Vettel announced departure was good (giving Kvyat opportunity) – One huge advantage RB has by having sister team.

      Last thoughts (from business perspective) – Looking at Alonso’s deal which is gonna be hefty in $, I don’t see any opportunity for JB to be hired as well.
      Ron will probably want to invest lesser in Magnessun.
      After all JB got 5 years (2010-2014) at McLaren (same as Alonso at Ferrari)
      You shouldn’t stick to it yourself. THE Only reason JB is desperate is ‘coz of new huge change in PU ‘Honda and Aero engineers and the last time they did it in 09 he won WDC [Merc Engine, new changes], so there’s kinda hope you’d get a car which you might win another WDC with it. If JB had to leave at end of next year, he wouldn’t mind as much as he does now.

      Whatever happens, we’ve to accept that’s how it is – Well one may argue, Massa, Kimi, etc. that’s coz of their luck – They’ll also go in 1-2 years max, NOT everyone can be Barichello, generation have changed!

      Only sad thing for JB is he didn’t get to celebrate in style like Mark Webber’s exit. rather it’ll be like Barichello’s way of exitting F1

      1. I can think of one rookie who utterly shone in his debut season, out pacing his experienced teammate. Today he became a double world champion!!!

    12. What a huge mistake it would be to drop Button. Everyone knows what he brings to the team, and his form has been excellent. Why wouldn’t you want to partner Alonso with Button? That partnership is a points vacuum and a sponsor’s dream.

      I’m sorry for Magnussen, but I don’t think he’s met expectations and it was a mistake to drop Perez in the first place – and that isn’t hindsight talking, many thought it at the time, including myself. You could argue Perez did a better job compared to Button, and he got the boot November last year. The thing is it isn’t entirely Magnussen’s fault. You couldn’t expect him to turn down a McLaren drive at 21. And he had some impressive races. But maybe time in another team or as test driver is the best option for McLaren at the moment.

    13. While it would be a shame to see Jenson out of a drive for 2015, I also think it woudl be a shame to see Magnussen shown the door after only 1 year in which he showed some real potential for the future.

      If you sit Magnussen out & have him in the Test/Reserve role for 2015 & put him back in the car for 2016 or beyond, You have basically wasted a year or more where he could be in the car continuing to learn & continuing to improve. It makes little sense to have him sit out a year where he’s going to be doing nothing & then put him back in the car a year or more later where he’s race rusty & probably done no proper F1 driving for over a year.

      Button has been more consistent this year, He did outscore Kevin & did manage to Out-qualify him 1 more time… But as a rookie in a car that wasn’t that good I think Kevin showed flashes of speed, He had a couple very impressive drives & does look to have some real potential going forward & given a years experience he will almost certainly be stronger next year.
      Look at Romain Grosjean, His 1st 1½ years in F1 were similar in that he showed flashes of speed but wasn’t very consistent & he made a lot of mistakes, Yet given a 2nd full year he continued to improve & was one of the best, most consistent drivers towards the end of 2013 & would have likely been better this year had the car/power unit not been rubbish.

      I like Jenson, I’ve been a fan of his since his F1 debut in 2000 & I’d love to see him remain in F1 next year…. But at the same time I don’t want to see Magnussen left without a drive because I think he’s done a fine job & deserve’s a 2nd season to show what he can do.

      Going by the assumption that Alonso’s there for 2015, I’d honestly go with Kevin as the 2nd driver. Just makes the most long term sense to me.

    14. Whitmarsh was replaced by Ron…..I would bet Jensons change of engineers something similar…..and think Sam Michaels departure on those lines….Ron is making his prescence felt…..oh and wait till the season is over, when Jensons chances of a drive elsewhere are probably nil….then re-sign him cheaper……..

    15. button should’ve rather said this would be his last race, bow out and have a proper goodbye. IF he gets kicked out of mclaren the end of his career wasn’t what it was supposed to be like. he’s a world champion, yet he lets himself get treated like a dog at mclaren. it’s not a very dignified way to go, even if it’s not sure yet.

      1. what nonsense ….jenson has played his cards as well as he can
        yes , he could just have gone quietly …but instead he has produced a huge swell of support for him to stay ; you think that doesn’t influence shareholders and sponsors ? think again , image is very important to all businesses , and it is clear that getting rid of him will leave a bad taste ….despite the fact that he would cost a lot more than Kmag it would be worth it
        so don’t abandon hope just yet !

    16. I wonder if Button felt the same, when Hamilton was forced into losing his engineer by Whitmarsh, in order to create a level playing field for Button, when he joined McLaren. It was that decision that made me doubt Whitmarsh’s motivations.The subsequent years since have shown that he was biased in Button’s favour. I firmly believe Hamilton left McLaren because of the apparent lack of equal support from Whitmarsh and others within McLaren during that period.

    17. Everyone needs to stop with the Button is old thread. He is 34 and in great condition. Alonso? Oh yes, he’s 33. Big age gap there! They both get the best of the cars they are given.

      I’m ok with ALO/BUT because the car won’t be blistering out of the gate unless Ross Brawn spent his year “fishing” at the Honda factory. Those two respect each other on track and would push each other while maximizing what they end up with for a car.

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