Jenson Button says having Fernando Alonso as his McLaren team-mate this year has been “a bigger challenge” than when he was paired with Lewis Hamilton from 2010-2012.
With McLaren-Honda having such a difficult season, Button and Alonso have rarely had the chance to score, and while the latter has given the team its best result – after finishing fifth in Hungary, it is the former that has scored more.
Indeed, ahead of this weekend's season finale in Abu Dhabi, Button has claimed four top-ten's and scored 16 points in total to his Spanish rivals 11.
“In a race it is a bigger challenge I would say [having Alonso as a team-mate to Hamilton], a more consistent challenge, he's always there,” Button said. “On some race days Lewis was untouchable and on other race days it was like 'Where is he?'
“I'm guessing Lewis is a different driver now, more experienced, but with Fernando he is always there.
“He is always competitive. If he is in front of you you're holding on and if he's behind you he's pushing you along, so that's great, I like that. I think that's important in the team and it has definitely helped us this year.”
Pressed on if Alonso has pushed him, Button added: “Of course he has, yeah. Before this year he was regarded as the best driver in Formula One. It's amazing how quickly people forget. He's very talented, he's a very rounded driver, a very complete driver. There aren't many.
“A lot of drivers have their strengths but they also have big weaknesses and I don't really think he does have a big weakness.”
Meanwhile, when it was put to him that Alonso said he hasn't been driving at his best this season, Button replied: “I don't agree with him.
“What driver gets into a car and drives slow? No. I mean really, come on. It was a good comment.
“Funny that – clever drivers say clever things.”