Button: People have wrong perception of McLaren
15 March 2013
Jenson Button believes that the general perception of his McLaren is team is a long way from the truth, dismissing claims that it is too controlling of its drivers.
The Briton, responding to comments made by former team-mate Lewis Hamilton that suggested he felt constrained by the requirements of the Woking squad, insisted that he could not be happier than he is at present, although he concedes that he was surprised by what he found when he first arrived at McLaren in 2010.
Hamilton started the week by claiming that McLaren was 'a really controlled environment where you are restricted to do and say what you are told', but Button says things couldn't be more different.
"Nothing against my previous teams but, when I came here, I thought it would be like people perceive it to be,” he told journalists ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, “But it's nothing like that.
“It's such a big family, and they'll do anything to make us feel comfortable so that, when we go racing, we're fully focused."
Among the gripes that eventually forced Hamilton to quit the team that had nurtured him through the junior ranks and took him to the 2008 world title was the amount of work he was required to do with sponsors, but Button insists that that is all part of the job spec for an F1 driver.
“Yes, you have to work, and probably harder than you would at other teams, but you need big sponsors to survive in the sport, and you need to understand that," he said, "It was a shock for me when I came here after winning the world championship with Brawn, as I had done six sponsor events that year.
"Initially, it's like 'wow, really?', but you adapt and you learn to understand that this is part of this job and you need that to succeed. It's not about just doing the work with the sponsor, you have to do a great job with a sponsor because you want to work with the sponsor for a long time."
Despite the calls on his time, Button manages to enjoy life away from the requirements of F1, and praised McLaren from the relationship it has with its drivers.
"The freedom you have in this team is phenomenal," the 2009 world champion insisted, "I've heard so many rumours about the way this team is, and it's so far from the truth. It's such an open team, a friendly team, and they will do anything to help you if you have any issues in any way.
"I understand that it's very busy, your time is restricted, because you are flying around doing sponsor events but, in terms of what you can do as a driver, in terms of what you can do as a driver to develop the car, it's amazing. I feel that you have so much freedom and so much help, if you need it. Whatever your issues are you get help here."
Ironically, Button's views were com pounded slightly by rumours that the McLaren mechanic have been banned from wearing shorts on grand prix weekends this season....