27 February 2013
Button: Lowe exit is not a problem
McLaren's Jenson Button has dismissed concerns that the loss of the team's technical director to Mercedes is a body blow for their 2013 title hopes.
Jenson Button was sounding calm and confident about his 2013 F1 title chances on Tuesday, and brushed aside concerns that the defection of the team's previous technical director Paddy Lowe would hurt McLaren's championship campaign.
"I really like Paddy," admitted Button. "It's been good fun working with him over the past three years, not just in a working relationship but also as a friend because he is a good guy, a fun character."
Button had previously described Lowe as "the guy who's going to help me achieve in the future," but that's now clearly not going to happen as the team announced on Monday that Lowe was being reassigned pending an expected move to rivals Mercedes at the end of the current season.
"When I came to this team it wasn't about one individual. I didn't come here because Paddy was here, I didn't come here because Lewis was here," insisted Button. "I came here because this is McLaren, with its heritage and history - a word we always use, but it is the truth - and its strength in depth.
"It's not about one individual, it's about the full team," he added. "Paddy leaving is part of the sport, people move around and go to different places."
That may well be the case, but former world champion Damon Hill painted a less rosy picture for McLaren in light of this week's news, pointing out that McLaren clearly wouldn't have wanted to lose such an important part of their F1 set-up just weeks before the start of a new season.
"Paddy is an incredibly talented, boffin type of character who I worked with in years gone by at Williams - he was developing the active suspension - and he knows everything you need to know about how to make a competitive car," Hill told Sky Sports News. "He will be a valuable asset for Mercedes and I would have thought that McLaren will be gutted to have lost him."
Lowe was conspicuous by his absence from the official launch of the McLaren MP4-28 earlier this month in Woking, and will now have to go on 'gardening leave' to ensure that he's not party to the team's research and development of their 2014 car under substantially revised technical regulations.
"When someone goes, they are not allowed to take any documents or any kind of information of that nature with them," pointed out Hill. "However, they still do and they are able transfer that know-how to another team and start again."
Button meanwhile was doing his best to look on the bright side, and was happily talking up the capabilities of Lowe's replacement as McLaren technical director, Tim Goss.
"Having Tim in the position he is now in? Fantastic. He was exceptional in his previous role and I think he will be in this role," he said. "He is the guy who designed the 2012 car that won seven races last year, so he knows exactly what he is doing.
"For us, will it make a massive difference?" Button summed up. "This team will succeed with or without Paddy in the future."
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