Defending F1 World Champion Jenson Button has revealed that he feels fully 'justified' in his decision to jump ship from Brawn GP – now Mercedes Grand Prix – to McLaren-Mercedes for this season, confessing that he is enjoying 'a real buzz' to be battling for the laurels again inside the team that incontrovertibly has momentum on its side.
Eight races into the F1 2010 campaign and Button has won twice – in Australia and China – twice more stood on the second step of the podium and sits just three points shy of team-mate and title-winning predecessor Lewis Hamilton atop the chase for the coveted crown. Contrast that with his previous employer, for whom Nico Rosberg has made the rostrum on only a couple of occasions – in third position both times – and which presently languishes a distant fourth in the constructors' standings, having notched up barely half the points tallied by McLaren.
That is some achievement by a driver who many wrote off prior to the beginning of the season, contending that the 30-year-old would be eaten alive by countryman Hamilton for having had the brazen audacity to enter the lion's den with the expectation of beating him. Thus far, however, honours have been relatively even – and the Woking-based outfit's third one-two of the campaign in the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal six days ago only underlined Button's conviction that right now, he could not possibly be anywhere better.
“It was a fantastic weekend,” he enthused, speaking to his personal website. “Firstly, it was great to be back racing in North America again, particularly in Montreal, which we've not visited since 2008. It's a fantastic city and a great track. It has to be one of the best races of the year – it has a great atmosphere, loads of really enthusiastic, passionate and knowledgeable fans and I love driving there!
“I had another great race; on Friday, it was obviously a setback to find that Jakob [Andreasen – race engineer] would have to go home because he was ill, but it shows how much strength-in-depth there is in this team that Phil [Prew – principal race engineer] was able to step right in and take over – and we barely missed a beat. Even though we all missed Jakob, Phil did a great job and second was a great result.
“I've really got to grips with the car now – I really feel like this is one of the most driveable cars I've ever had, and it really doesn't require too much set-up work to produce a good lap time, which is the sign of a good car. I still need to work to find that final tenth or so in qualifying, but I was very satisfied with my race.
“[Qualifying] is not absolutely key, because this year's races have shown that, if you look after the tyres and conserve fuel, then the race can definitely come to you, particularly in the later stages – but now that Lewis and I have a front-running car, it's an area where I'll be directing more focus. I'll admit, Lewis did a pretty phenomenal job in qualifying in Montreal, but he's always been fast around there. We have some improvements in the pipeline that should allow us to take on the Red Bulls in qualifying, so hopefully that will also help.”
Button is quick to praise McLaren for having again engineered a superb programme of development with the MP4-25, turning a car that secured two somewhat weather-assisted victories early on in the campaign into arguably the class of the field now, faster even than the hitherto seemingly unassailable Red Bull Racing RB6.
If that upward curve continues, an all-British title duel between the sport's most recent two world champions is far from out-of-the-question – and the Frome-born ace voices his opinion that there should no longer be any doubt at all about the motives behind a team switch that he stresses has been fully vindicated and then some.