Button: Everyone here is excited about the challenge of 2014 with Ron in charge

Ron Dennis with Jenson Button

Ron Dennis with Jenson Button

The return of former Team Principal Ron Dennis to a more hands-on role at McLaren will boost the hurting Formula 1 team this season, Jenson Button said on Friday.

Dennis ousted Martin Whitmarsh as group chief executive last week, with the latter now expected to vacate the role of Team Principal as well, before the championship starts in Australia in March.

McLaren presented its new MP4-29 car online on Friday with Whitmarsh conspicuous by his absence. Senior management made clear that Dennis, who ran the team from 1982 to 2009, was again calling the shots and Button said thathe was “excited by the prospect”.

“I have spoken to Ron a lot over the last few days…he is very excited about his role and he is very hungry,” said the Briton who won his 2009 title with Brawn GP.

Dennis presided over some of the team’s greatest years, with Brazilian Ayrton Senna and Frenchman Alain Prost, and Button said that history was another strength.

Ron Dennis  with Ayrton Senna and  Alain Prost

Ron Dennis with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost

“He’s a true racer, he’s a true fighter and he really has built this team up over the years,” Button told reporters.

“It’s good for the team, it’s good for Ron that he has the chance to really drive this team on again,” he said in his first comments about the changeover.

“Everyone here is excited about the challenge of 2014 with Ron in charge.”

McLaren need to move up a gear after a dismal 2013 without a single podium finish, their worst performance since 1980, that saw the former champions end up fifth overall in the Constructors’ standings.

While Dennis has resumed overall control, he is not expected to take on the active role of Principal on the pit wall. Frenchman Eric Boullier, who was replaced as Lotus principal on Friday, is now seen as a likely candidate.

Button said that he was aware of the rumours but did not know any more about the situation.

Ron Dennis with Jonathan Neale

Ron Dennis with Jonathan Neale

Managing director Jonathan Neale, who worked closely with Dennis in the past, said that the 66-year-old – a major shareholder whose main focus in recent years has been developing McLaren’s sportscar business – had lost none of his energy.

“For those that know Ron, he is as fired up as he ever has been, probably more passionate now than ever,” he declared.

“If ever there was somebody who had a very strong vision and a sense of true worth and how it is to win in F1 and why that is important, he has got it in spades,” said Neale. “It’s exciting times.”

Button is still coming to terms with the sudden death of his father John, a constant companion on the circuit, and the loss was still too raw for him to talk about.

He said everything had gone through his mind, including taking time out from F1, but thathe was now looking forward to racing again.

Kevin Magnussen, Jenson Button and Stoffel Vandoorne with the McLaren MP4-29

Kevin Magnussen, Jenson Button and Stoffel Vandoorne with the McLaren MP4-29

“It is going to be a challenge for us all with the regulations but it is an exciting challenge and there is so much for us to learn still,” Button added.

“So I am looking forward to a year where I am going to put everything into this sport and leave nothing on the table. I am looking forward to getting on with it next week.”

Testing starts at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain on Tuesday, with Button in the car for the first two days.

“I think every single person in F1 is sitting on the edge of the unknown,” he said of a season that sees major technical changes including the introduction of a new V6 turbocharged engine with energy recovery systems.

“There will be lots of things going through my mind when I settle myself into the cockpit for the first time in Jerez.” (Reuters)

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  • Brit media at it again

    Button the a$$ kissing snake is buttering up Ron now.
    He weaseled favour from Whitmarsh who was his buddy, but Martin was after Alonso last year for 2015.

    Now he will butter Ron who dislikes Alonso, to keep Mclaren from persueing him. Always politics with Button.
    Really takes after his idol, Alain Prost.
    If I can’t beat my teammates, I have to use politics.

    This is where you must admire Kimi and Lewis, who says I don’t want to be the no.1 driver. Give me equal status with anybody, I want to beat them fair and square. I am a Racer not a politician.

  • DickDastardly

    ron may bring mclaren forwards but button cant. in 4 years he has had 1 pole which was due to picking the right setup, not raw talent. take 2012 for example,hamilton had retirements in abu dhabi from the lead, singapore from the lead and was stripped of pole in spain and started at the back and still beat jb and on a 2 stop strategy. plus hamilton had more bad pit stops and mclaren messed up his strategy a lot. all this and hamilton still beat him that year. jb is not a top driver and will never win a wdc without a massive car advantage

  • AlsoRan

    I thought Dennis was kicked out of F1 much like Flavio Briatore. How did he manage to weasel his way back in?

  • AlsoRan

    Sadly, this is a corrupt sport.