Jenson Button has paid tribute to McLaren-Mercedes for the 'innovative' design of its recently-launched MP4-26, praising the team for doing things differently to its rivals and asserting that 'if you follow, you will never win'.
McLaren's new baby was revealed to the watching world to a public reception in Berlin's Potsdamer Platz late last week, and Button acknowledges that the presentation was quite 'unique'. Although his only running to-date in F1 2011 has been with last year's MP4-25 around Valencia's Circuit Ricardo Tormo, the 2009 world champion is confident things are progressing nicely on-track for the Woking-based outfit as it bids to avenge its defeat against Red Bull Racing last season.
“This is our new baby – the car that will hopefully take one of us (himself or team-mate Lewis Hamilton) to the drivers' world championship and also the constructors' world championship,” he enthused. “It's beautiful, and I'm looking forward to getting out with it on the circuit.
“The team are already making very good progress, particularly in terms of understanding the tyres, because Pirelli is new to everyone this year. Valencia was a very useful test, but the really exciting and important test for us will be when we rock up at Jerez with this beauty!”
One significant change compared to this time twelve months ago is that whilst Button arrived at McLaren too late to have any real input into the 2010 machine – and suffered to some extent because of his height as the tallest driver on the grid in a car that had not been specifically designed to accommodate that – his suggestions have been fully taken on-board with regard to the MP4-26, something that he hopes could just make the vital difference between a race-winning contender and a title-winning one.
“Throughout the whole of last year, the team really listened to what I had to say,” the 31-year-old affirmed. “The development throughout the year came from both of us, which has been good. Before the car is built, you need to get involved and sometimes really push your point.
“The team has been great in really trying to help with my style of driving. I feel a lot more at home now in the cockpit, a lot lower in the car and I feel part of the car. I'm very happy with the direction we've taken regarding the comfort as well as the balance and feeling of the car. I'm happy that my voice has been heard.
“Our car definitely looks different to most cars out there – and it looks better
than most cars out there. We have some new designs [on the MP4-26], which I think is very exciting. The Red Bull and Ferrari look quite similar to last year's cars, whilst it's very exciting for Renault with their different exhaust system. That could be good for them or it could be very bad, but we are just doing our own thing. It's great and important to have new ideas – you have to come up with new ideas for development. If you follow, you will never win.”