Button ‘can kick Fernando’s butt’ – Dennis

2015 F1 season

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McLaren CEO Ron Dennis is certain Jenson Button can be a match for his new team mate Fernando Alonso next year.

Alonso emphatically defeated fellow world champion Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari this year, and will be up against another champion next year following his move to McLaren.

McLaren took until December to decide to extend Button’s contract, and Dennis says the 2009 world champion has “got his challenges” for 2015.

“He has now no reason not to get the job done,” said Dennis in a press conference at the McLaren Technology Centre on Thursday. “None at all. We’ve been in deep debate about it.”

“There was a turning point for me which was, strangely, the conversation that took place between Jenson and I after [a] race and it was in contrast to the previous month and it re-energised in me the belief that actually Jenson did want, for all the right reasons, to be in a Formula One car and really believed, and I want him to believe, that he can absolutely kick Fernando’s butt.

“So if he can do that, great, or if he’s going to get close to it, great, because what we want is two drivers that can win races. And the first thing in a team is beat the team mate.

“But how you beat the team mate is critical to the harmony of the team. And so these guys are seasoned professionals. They understand the media, they understand the chemistry in side the team and they’ve both had enough experience of McLaren to know that we have one common objective – we have to win.”

Dennis added he expects the team’s driver line-up will put them under intense scrutiny next season.

“The media inevitably is going to be challenging to manage,” he said. We have an English driver in and English team with English mechanics backed up by the English media. We have a Spanish driver with Spanish media.”

“Both media groups are extremely combative, understandably, and in the end we have to ensure that that objective does not influence the team.”

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Keith Collantine
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91 comments on “Button ‘can kick Fernando’s butt’ – Dennis”

  1. Yeah right. That’s why they are paying Button 6M and Alonso 25M

    1. I’m not sure salary is directly linked to speed.

      1. It was at Red Bull this year…

        Oh wait…

      2. It’s not. But salary is linked to what Ron Dennis thinks they are worth. So his money is not where his mouth is.

      3. yeah, Dennis decides the payroll throwing a coin. Fernando got his salary NOT because Dennis thinks he is better and faster than Jenson, FA just choose heads.

    2. Excellent point.

    3. What if the car has NO balance ?

      1. Just wanted to say this comment deserves far more credit than its got. *doffs cap*

    4. I don’t know the hurdles Ron set for Jenson, but I’d say 80% or better of Fernando’s points would be sufficient. greater than 95% is a virtual tie either way. I don’t think Jenson will get > 120% of Alonso’s points. Button dispatched Perez (Perez was like 67% of Button) – a butt-kicking is more like 200%, which I just don’t see happening.

      I’ll predict they will finish with the lower driver being 90-95% of the points of the higher driver. Jenson in the first year, Alonso in the second.

      1. I’d guess Button gets more like 75-80% of Alonso’s points, although it depends how good the car is, the better the car the closer the points should be in percentage terms (look at Kvyat vs Vergne this season).

    5. Ron is the new Bernie. After blaming Lewis for 2007 crisis he suggests Jenson can kick Nando’s ass? C’mon Ron!

      1. I thought Ron developed a sense of humour. I had a good laugh at the thought of Button matching Alonso

    6. @kroonracing
      Has Button’s salary been cut to 6M?

    7. You really think McLaren is that brainless to pay Alonso 25m? His salary is majorly paid by Honda, who actually has a interest in him.

    8. Well if McLaren decide to build an abnormally understeer car just to match Fernando’s unique favour then yes Jenson will get nothing near him, probably perform worse than Raikkonen’s 30%.

    9. You don’t know how much the are getting. It’s so annoying that fan speculations suddenly become reality to you people. There was nowhere any proof of how much Alonso gets or whether Honda(another silly myth) is paying for his salary.

  2. Yes I am excited to see whether Button can kick Alonso’s butt!

    I was one of those who said Button won’t stand a chance against Hamilton, so I will wait and see.

    Also excited to see how Raikkonen vs Vettel turns out.

    1. @zippyone – you need to be behind someone to kick their butt. I’m sure Jenson would rather be in front.

      1. Or you could just give a good kick when you lap them in identical car.

    2. I’m curious myself; like you said, he held his own against Hamilton, who held his own against Alonso. I’d be surprised if the gap was very large at the end of next season.

    3. If ALO gets some of Lewis’ luck re reliability, than sure Jenson might just kick his butt.

  3. I think over one race, absolutely Jenson can beat Fernando, over the course of the season? Possibly not, sure keen to find out though.

    I know one thing for certain though, McLaren have got the most experienced drivers on the grid, and if I could pick any two drivers on the grid for my team. It would be those two.

  4. Is the pressure on Button or not? I can’t decide. If he beats Alonso then job done – egg on face for the suits at McLaren (and Alonso), if he hangs with him and keeps him honest then he’s done his job also. If he gets trounced (which I don’t think he will) then I guess they’ll put him out to pasture.

  5. Button:”…and that’s Alonso in a Ferrari. That’s not the worry”
    Well,let’s see how those words will come back and hit him hard if he proves no match for Alonso.

  6. I wouldn’t underestimate Button. I thought Hamilton was going to trash him in their time together, he didn’t. I thought that Perez and Magnussen were going to show him up, he turned out to be a fair bit better/faster than both of them.

    However, overall I still expect Alonso to outperform him by a good margin, both in qualifying and in the race.

    Alonso trashed Massa, Raikkonen, Fisichella, and Grosjean as teammates in qualifying by a hefty margin. None of the guys I mentioned above are any slower than JB over one lap.

    Alonso edged Trulli 16-15 in qualy, and just lost out to Hamilton 8-9. In the prime of his career, Jarno as an awesome qualifier. And Lewis of course, was convincingly faster than JB over one lap.

    Alonso generally had the edge on Hamilton in race pace in 2007, he beat him 9-6 in a two car finish. Hamilton beat Button 26-14 in a two car finish. Alonso destroyed Fisichella in Renault, Button was beat by Fisi when teammates in Benetton. Both looked roughly equally good when paired against Trulli in Renault.

    All the evidence (indirect comparisons through teammates) points to Alonso being a bit faster than Button, both over one lap and across a race distance.

    1. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
      12th December 2014, 10:49

      @kingshark I think you have to allow one season for a settling in period: hence Raikkonen struggled in his first season back with Ferrari and Hamilton looked unremarkable in his first season at Mercedes. I hope Button will outscore Alonso in their first season together, or at least run him very close (and I rate Alonso very highly), I expect Raikkonen to do the same at Ferrari. Next season could be (another!) classic.

      Ps. nice stats on two car finishes.

      1. @thegrapeunwashed
        Alonso is without doubt one of the most adaptable, if not the most adaptable drivers on the grid. Look at how little time it took him to get settled in Ferrari. He won the opening race in Bahrain (where his fastest lap was some 1.1 seconds faster than anyone else, in the Bridgestone days, when fastest laps actually meant something). In his 2nd race in Australia, he spun in turn 1, then overtook his way from 22nd to 4th (without DRS and Pirelli tyres) before getting stuck behind Massa.

        I doubt it will take him more than a few races to get settled in at McLaren.

        Ps. nice stats on two car finishes.

        Thanks. ;-)

        1. Jenson won in his second race for Mclaren in 2010 so he didn’t take long to settle in either

          1. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
            12th December 2014, 22:08

            Yeah and also, Jenson is the most recent McLaren race winner too

    2. @kingshark – thanks for that, very interesting analysis. What I see is that Button will often grind out the points whatever the capabilities of the car, whereas Alonso will ruthlessly exploit every advantage he can get, then add flashes of brilliance. I don’t expect Button to end the year ahead, but I don’t think he will be embarrassed either.

    3. Over 1 lap pace : Alonso beat Trulli, Hamilton beat Alonso, Rosberg beat Hamilton. Not saying that Rosberg is the best qualifier, but considering Alonso beat Hamilton on race and Hamilton beat both Button and Rosberg, I think Button is similar level on Rosberg. And Rosberg is a great driver don’t get me wrong, but he lack x factor to be a special guy

      1. Buton outscored Hamilton whilst they were teammates?!

        1. Only due to bad luck – Hamilton had 5 more DNFs than Button (13-8), including three while leading the race in 2012 (two mechanical problems in Singapore and Abu Dhabi, then got crashed into by Hulkenberg in Brazil, handing overall points advantage to Button). Hamilton outqualified Button 44-14, and if you exclude races where one had a mechanical failure he was ahead 27-20 in races, despite crashing out 7 times to Button’s 3. The final score was 672-657 (JB 15 points ahead), but if Nico Hulkenberg hadn’t crashed into Hamilton his last race for McLaren (Brazil) and Hamilton, Hulkenberg and Button had instead maintained 1, 2 and 3, then Hamilton would have beaten Button by 20 points (682-662 to Hamilton). Plus there was Hamilton having probably his worst performing season in F1 in 2011, which was the only season of the three where JB outscored Lewis.

      2. @deongunner
        Rosberg could very well be the fastest driver over a single lap. I can see an argument being made for him being the best qualifier in F1. Race pace is clearly his weakness.

    4. ALonso never outperformed Trulli that much, specially in 2004 remember ;)

      1. Ofc he did, but not such a great margin.

    5. Another thing @Kingshark ; is it BS that Alonsos qualifying pace have somehow gone? Referring to seasons like 2012 (Ferrari years altogether) when he got plenty of podium because of good race pace, but he lacked otherwise the qualifying pace. Still much faster than Massa though.

      1. I really believe these Pirelli tyres make it necessary to chose between setting up the car for Q3 or setting it up for the race, think how HAMs tyres last longer than ROSs, Alonso and Button surprise on Sunday etc.

  7. Maybe if Ron has Alonso in a head lock inside the motor home.

    1. Hahaha lol you made my day! :)

  8. The media will be challenging to manage if you say ‘the media will be challenging to manage’ to the media.

    I fear this is going to be messy again.

    1. @john-h
      Ah, but at least he can say ‘I told you so!’ when he writes his autobiography :P

  9. May be if Button has equal treatment which is not going to be the case… 30 millon euros to 6 million euros. U should expect 5 times more points at the end of championship. Who believes Button will recieve same material as Alonso, same attention, same test kms, same upgrades, same… Engine will be the same? U know honda and his preferement treatments to their favourite drivers, seen already in f1 and motogp.

    1. @Alex But Mclaren still tries to get equal equipment to every driver combination they have, or is this not the case allways?

    2. Now is 30 million. Other say 20 and other 25 and now 30. You people don’t know so please be quiet. The guy may be getting 5 million for all you know.

  10. Given Alonso’s form this year (I placed him second in my rankings), it will be very, very tough. Then again, I expected Hamilton to thrash Button, but he only edged him in terms of races.

    I’ll be supporting Button with this seemingly impossible challenge, despite me wanting Magnussen in that car.

    1. Hamilton had personal problems in 2011 and went into meltdown. This has effected the stats against Jenson, but as already stated above the race stats were still 26-14 to Lewis when both cars finished.

      1. Yes, well, I am pretty sure that part of that meltdown was also finding himself being beaten by a teammate he thought he would trash in 2011 as much as Alonso had a hard time swallowing Hamilton being on his heels from the start of 2007 dex.

        And from last 2-3 seasons its pretty clear that it made Hamilton a better driver to cope it.

        1. I agree that having Button as a teammate made Hamilton a stronger driver (likewise Hamilton made Button a stronger driver), but Hamilton was actually beating Button in the championship despite his problems until Belgium (round 12 of 19), after which Hamilton had some mediocre results while Button finished on the podium in every remaining race apart from Korea (even then he wasn’t far off in 4th). Hamilton’s problems were pretty much rooted from his break-up with Nicole and deteriorating relationship with his Dad after he fired him as his manager.

          1. No i think his biggest problem was called “let’s ruin Hamilton’s race” Massa.

  11. Alonso tied with first-year Hamilton in terms of points.

    Button beat experience, world-champion Hamilton over their three years together in terms of points.

    Yes, Button can beat Alonso. The fact that he’s also extremely mentally strong will surely help him bunches against Alonso, who’s well known for his mind games.

  12. I find it very hard to believe anything that Ron says. The guy just reeks of insincerity.
    I would absolutely love to see both Alonso and Button getting podiums (and even wins) next season as they are both favourites of mine (for very different reasons) and I do not worry at all about trouble between the two. They are both mature enough to deal with it and I am sure Jenson understands his role in the team. .
    If the car is seriously off the pace of Mercedes and Williams there could be issues developing but surely they aren’t expecting to be Champions straight away?
    I can’t wait to the test sessions in Spain!

    1. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
      12th December 2014, 11:44

      @arki19 What do you mean when you talk about Jenson’s role? Jenson’s role in the team is to beat Fernando, McLaren isn’t going to turn into a one driver team. I guess if the drivers push for different development paths the team will prefer Alonso to Button, but I can’t see them favouring the Spaniard otherwise.

      1. As much as I would like to see Button beating Alonso i don’t think it is gonna happen and surely McLaren know this too. I don’t think they will favour the Spanaird as such but I think it is naive to think he won’t be considered number 1.
        I cannot fathom how an F1 driver’s mind works as they are the opposite of me, but Jenson obviously thinks he can beat Alonso. Good for him!

    2. I think Ron would be very happy if he gets Button to be as close to Alonso as the pair of Button and Hamilton were in their time together. I think this spirit / love for the Challenge (the same thing we saw with Button choosing to take on Hamilton in 2010) is what might have convinced Ron that Button is the right choice to be in the car.
      Despite everything else, Ron is a racer who wants to see his cars winning and would want his drivers to be able to show the dominance we saw in the past in their great days of regular 1-2s with Senna/Prost and later to an extent with Hakkinen/Coulthard or indeed with Alonso/Hamilton and at times with Button/Hamilton as well.

  13. Alonso can drag the second best car to a win everyday fo the year. He can win some races and fight for the championship even in the third best car.

    Jenson can win races in the second or third best car if the conditions suit him.

    In the best car, both will be equally fast and fight each other for the championship.

  14. going to be interesting ! honda money has brought alonso to McLaren , so ron has a vested interest in his success

    wouldn’t be good for honda to be embarrassed by less than a stellar alonso performance , so if button is right there with him……….

  15. JB does have an advantage in being in the team for a while, of course, but for both of them the engine will be new, and we’ve seen with Kimi the repercussions of an engine/brake system that is immature and doesn’t quite give him the feel he’s after. I think that, whilst the Honda PU may turn out to be great, getting it all dialled in may take some time and this could be less of an issue for Alonso. Ultimately, if the car is just how Button likes it then I reckon it will be pretty tight between them, but Alonso’s strength over the long haul has been that he can adapt to iffy cars like no-one else. It’s that which makes him so great – in a particular car over a particular season he may be given a close run by a strong team-mate, and so it might prove next year, but chances are he’ll squeeze out more performance and point-saving recovery drives and last-gasp lunges over a longer period.

    1. I agree. Button needs next year’s McLaren to be his perfect car to stand a chance against Alonso, whose ability to drive a car to the best of its ability is probably better than Schumi’s.

      1. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
        12th December 2014, 22:28

        Lol no way is Alonso more capable than Schumacher in a poor car. This was Schumacher’s greatest ability. Never in their career have either Alonso or Hamilton fine the equivalent of Schumacher in Spain 95, 96 & Hungary 98. Schumacher is in a totally different, higher, league to ANYONE either who came before him or after him. All of the current grid would’ve been crushed by Michael from 1992-2006, especially in sub par cars. The closest a current driver has come to a Schumacher epic drive is Jenson, in 2006 his first win, and, Spain 2009 when he crushed Rubens in the same way Michael was famous for. All Jenson needs to do is remember that race and hour hard he had to dig and reproduce in every race and he’ll beat Alonso.

        1. The fact he had the tire advantage an illegal suspension at Benneton and crashed Damon Hill for a WDC provided him with many of his 7 titles. Over rated and not in Alonso’s class.

          1. Alonso fans really need to start taking deep breaths before saying something. He’s definitely a brilliant driver, but God are his followers blind worshipers.

          2. Masque
            Not as much about me being an Alonso worshipper as realizing Schuey had big advantages over the others in his days at Ferrari. To me, several of his titles were Vettelesque in nature – several drivers could have had the same results with the tire advantage. His last stint at Merc was a disaster – yes he was older and the car wasn’t competitive but…..

        2. Pfff…Schumacher had the whole world conspiring to give him his titles. The FIA and FOM did everything to put Ferrari on top at moment and Ferrari had every advantage on the book. From tyres to testing, to money, to racing decisions. to second driver by contract for Schumi etc.
          And that Benneton was full with Briatore-Brawn illegal stuff.

  16. Regarding salaries. Let’s say both drivers are equal. Honda needed to make an impact, they probably wont be fast from the off, so the next best thing is a big name. A global name who’s going to give them massive exposure in a multi billion dollar industry that Mercedes are stomping on. That’s why they’re paying what it takes to get Alonso. Both drivers are probably worth more money.
    Once Red Bull and Mercedes have had their time, they’ll be looking to pay mega bucks for the likes of both Jenson and Fernando’s development abilities.

  17. Is this statement really as ridiculous as it appears from preliminary inspection? Certainly any idea that Alonso’s period of adjustment will give Button an advantage is not a viable argument with regards the man that won his first race for Ferrari and won in his second race for McLaren, but this is a very different equation than when Jenson lined up against Hamilton. Whilst Fernando and Jenson’s driving styles are chalk and cheese their skills sets are not, and who was it that scored more points during the Hamilton-Button partnership? Both Button and Alonso are masters at extenuating their qualifying weaknesses, and as we have seen in 2009 and sporadically with McLaren, Button is virtually unbeatable if he has that perfect neutral-to-understeer balance, the same balance Alonso prefers.

    But whilst Button has a rich vane of form within him, Alonso’s hands and feet do appear to sprinkled with magic dust, so whilst Button may have a fair chance of beating Fernando at specific racetracks, as Raikkonen did at Spa, Jenson will have to consistently find the level of comfort he enjoyed in the opening rounds of the 2009 season if he is to get within a reasonable proximity of Fernando’s season-long points tally.

  18. Dennis actually said: “I want him to believe, that he can absolutely kick Fernando’s butt.”
    That’s quite a difference!

    Having said that – if Button beats Alonso he will be a hero; if he matches Alonso he will be a star; if he closely follows Alonso he might get his (option) 2nd year; but if he does a ‘Raikkonen’ then ’15 will be his last (part) season in F1.

    1. Button will not do a Raikkonen. Button actually cares about being 2nd or 20th.
      He won’t be able to match Alonso either. The worse the car, the greater distance between them will be.

      1. +1 I think Button will fare better than Raikkonen and Massa against Alonso, but I agree, Button won’t match Alonso.

    2. You are spot on!
      Where in the article does Dennis say he thinks Button can kick Alonso’s butt?? NOWHERE! The Brit media will go to extraordinary lengths to get notice but this is ridiculous.
      IF Button did say it, he’d better back it up or he will be a laughingstock – not a bright decision on his part. I respect Button as a good guy but Alonso will make him look very average. Forget the Button advantage from being at McLaren – Alonso will adjust very quickly – just like he did in 2007. There is a reason why his peers and former greats call him the best.

  19. If the sponsor deal had gone through with LEGO, then I think Magnussen would have gotten the seat instead of Button..

    Button just is not a Class A driver. He is the luckiest world champion in F1’s history.. and that I think is thanks to his first appearance on Top Gear

    1. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
      12th December 2014, 23:01

      I think the luckiest wdc awards goes to Damon Hill, 1996!! Jenson it’s far better than you give him credit for. He crushed Magnusson in the race this year. Game over for Kevin really.

    2. The luckiest World Champion would not show an equal race pace and better judgements compared with Lewis Hamilton. I think the normal 3 nominees would be Damon Hill, JV and Keke Rosberg.

  20. For the longest time I thought Ron Dennis would never have Alonso back. So, I was wrong. But I am wondering if Alonso brought Santander sponsorship back to McLaren with him. Does anyone know? As McLaren struggled for large sponsors in 2014, having Santander paying back the $100M Alonso cost Dennis in 2007 could have been part of the deal.

    As for Button kicking Alonso’s butt, sure. In a triathlon. On the track, only rarely due to car set up. Alonso’s raw speed is too much for Button to handle.

    1. Santander have sponsored Jenson for a few years now

    2. @svianna I have seen suggestions Santander are actually staying put at Ferrari to see out their contract which runs until 2017, and not following Alonso this time. Santander still sponsor McLaren and have done so since 2007, and to a lesser degree since 2010. Whether that will increase somewhat, we’ll have to see.

      I think Movistar are looking at sponsoring McLaren after Alonso’s return. Remember they sponsored him at Renault.

      1. Honestly I think Alonso has the worst raw pace in the current 5 world champions. Given the car is normal, not abnormally understeer. R26 was an incredible machine before some parts of it got banned but he never showed dominant pace.

  21. Fernando should shave to gain a couple of tenths in his race pace :P

  22. “can kick fernando’s butt” Really Ron? Maybe you’re getting too old for these things mate…

  23. If Jenson is allowed to beat Fernando, he will do it.

  24. That first picture so looks like a poster for the next Hangover movie

  25. I think Fredo will easily beat Button.

  26. Ivan Hilario Pacheco
    14th December 2014, 6:32

    I don’t expect Jenson to beat Fernando overall in the season, but i do belive he can beat him in many races fear and square. is very intelligent and will work hard to be as close as posible to him

    Jenson has an excellent racecraft, is good on strategy and changing conditions, very complete.

  27. Not possible if the Macca is not a good car. Irvine once said that when the Ferrari was bad, Schumi would be light years ahead if him (a la 1996), but he got closer as the car got better in the next few years.
    Not saying Irvine is as good as Button, but Jense will be able to beat Alonso only if the car suits him well, or if it is good handling. Or if he makes the right gambles. Otherwise, he doesn’t stand a chance. It must also be remembered that at 35, Button is well past the peak performance date. We don’t know for sure whether he drove that well this year, or that Magnussen underperformed.

  28. Alonso is way too good for Button. Only Lewis can beat Alonso – as he showed.

    1. This is a dilemma, Lewis did not beat Button.

      1. Yes he did.

  29. Alonso is at the same position as Hamilton vs button times
    Every one believe Hamilton blow button away. But it wasn’t the case.but Lewis show obvoious faster without doubt
    Button is a special driver ,he look like he is as good as his teammate.what means ?when teammate is competitive, he is competitive ,the vice versa.

    I would expect Alonso faster than button,and more points than button
    But I hope McLaren provide equal status to both driver to fight each other
    It will prove Alonso can face equal status and develop both drivers a better driver like Hamilton vs rosberg ,senna vs prost, of cos a gd image for McLaren Honda and driver image
    Look at red bull, sometimes they favour Webber ,sometimes favour vettel, in 2013 Malaysia, it destroy red bull and drivers images
    Let’s driver fair race

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