Jenson Button has admitted that the next two months could be critical, not only for his 2013 championship chances, but also for establishing himself as McLaren team leader.
The Briton finished the 2012 F1 campaign on a high by winning last Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, but heads into the close season knowing that it will be a different looking McLaren attack next year, following Lewis Hamilton's defection to Mercedes, and the impending arrival of Sergio Perez as his replacement.
Having spent three years with the Woking team, Button is already entrenched, but insists that he needs to make full use of the time between team-mates to get a headstart on 2013.
"I still think we're going to have two drivers that want to win the world championship,” the 32-year old told Sky Sports News,/i>, “I don't think that changes - we're all here to do a job and we all think we can win the world championship – but it is different [going into 2013].
“Lewis is going to be leaving this team [and], when you're team-mates with Lewis, you share the direction of the car, if you like. Now, with Lewis leaving, I have a couple of months to really direct the team into what I would like with the car before 'Checo' arrives.
"That's an important couple of months for me to really feel that I've got a good direction with the car, because Sergio is going to be quick. That's good, [as] you need a team-mate that's quick, and I think he's going to learn very quickly, which is very good for him."
Although neither Button nor Hamilton was able to sustain a championship challenge to Sao Paulo, the Briton insists that the year as a whole will still have been of value to McLaren going forward.
"In terms of the end result and the points, I'm not very happy," he admitted, "but, in terms of what we've learnt this year, it's been really useful. In a way, it's been like a great 'testing' season because we've had great results [and] we've had bad results in terms of the whole team.
"We've learnt a lot and, in that period around Monaco and Canada, when I had some really bad races, we got a lot of information with the direction we took with the car, which was wrong, and it's been really useful for us for the rest of the year. I think we can take that forward to 2013."