Dennis: In many ways there are similarities between Ayrton and Jenson

Ron Dennis with Jenson Button

Ron Dennis with Jenson Button

McLaren boss Ron Dennis sang the praises of his Formula 1 driver line-up on Thursday and detected echoes of Ayrton Senna in Jenson Button’s relationship with the team.

“In many ways there are similarities between Ayrton and Jenson,” the 66-year-old group chief executive told reporters at a pre-season briefing at the McLaren factory in southern England.

“He is an incredibly good human being. He has principles and values. And the way that he conducts his life and his relationship with this team is right up there with some of the other great drivers who have been with us.”

Brazilian Senna won his three titles with McLaren before he was killed at the wheel of a Williams in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. His death remains the last of a driver during an F1 race weekend.

Ron Dennis with Ayrton Senna

Ron Dennis with Ayrton Senna

Button, the 2009 world champion with Brawn GP, is starting his fifth year with McLaren and has a new team mate in Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen following the departure of Mexican Sergio Perez.

The Briton’s contract is up for renewal at the end of the season, when McLaren are switching from Mercedes engines to Honda power.

Dennis said that Button, the most experienced driver on the starting grid with a career that dates back to 2000, is as fit as any rival and is also highly intelligent.

“Intelligence is going to become an absolute pre-requisite to cope with the complications drivers have in the car, the fuel management and tyre management…it is going to require brainpower and dedication,” he added.

Kevin Magnussen,  Jenson Button and Stoffel Vandoorne

Kevin Magnussen, Jenson Button and Stoffel Vandoorne

“And then he’s quick. He is capable of winning races and world championships…I’m extremely optimistic and I think he will be an incredible mentor to Kevin.”

Magnussen is the son of former F1 racer Jan, who had a McLaren debut in 1995 and then moved to the Stewart team where his career stalled. He left after just 25 races, with one point to his credit.

F1 lore relates how Dennis, famously fastidious and with a meticulous attention to detail, mentally wrote off Magnussen senior when they were together at an airport and the driver had packed his passport in his suitcase.

When Magnussen opened it, the contents reportedly “looked as if they had been thrown in by a petulant teenager”.

McLaren MP4-29

McLaren MP4-29

“I had reservations,” he recalled on Thursday when discussing the decision to sign Kevin. “I’m not a great believer in sons of drivers. Jan was a little bit untidy. He quite did my head in sometimes.”

Magnussen junior, fortunately, is a very different individual.

Dennis said all the feedback from engineers was that he is an exceptional talent.

“He will have an exceptional career, I’m sure of that. He’s got a steely determination. I don’t think he’s going to give when he gets a few knocks. He’s certainly going to keep Jenson honest, that’s for sure.” (Reuters)

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  • McLarenfan

    Wow I would never have said I saw that statement coming and from Ron, We all know Jenson is fit and he strives for perfection in the setup but a direct comparison to Senna I am shocked.

  • ????

    go drunk uncle dennis, you are home

  • Dean Craddock

    Top marks from Ron on man management, make your top driver feel great and watch and see what happens.

  • Quando, Quando, Quando

    He’s learnt to say the right things at the start of a season, wait till problems arise then we’ll get the brain rattling ronspeak.

  • karlich

    Don’t worry, there still was some Ron-speak in the remainder of the interview not shown here and like you said, when **** hits the fan, I am certain there will be lots to quote from him ;-)

  • KevinW

    Button is certainly of strong character, personable, and a strong team player. The question that needs to be answered ultimately, is he a great driver? He has moments where you can’t help but think he is, and seemingly periods where he seems a bit of a wimp when the car is not perfect to his taste. Perhaps the new formula will take enough away from the driving side and add to the need for thinking pilots, he will shine. His career has been an odd mix of right place, wrong time, or wrong place right time misses, its really hard to know whether he’s being held back by circumstances, or is he just as mediocre as he looks on track most days. I certainly have no issue with the idea of him winning a second championship, just not convinced it is in him to achieve it without the sort of advantage the Brawn handed him in 2009.

  • Tamburello1994

    Missing Lewis are we?

  • nowhereman

    The English are a strange people indeed.

  • Hugo Lafreniere

    He’s talking about the way Jenson interacts with the team… not pure speed or skill.

  • McLarenfan

    And the other problem with all these comparisons is different machines. There are drivers who couldn’t get on with grooved tyres, blown floors spooked some others the lack of downforce they cant drive the machine. Every time the car changes there will be those who just cant get to grips with the new styles needed. I dread to think what Senna would think about a toaster and deep fat fryer attached to a 1.6 with no 3rd peddle and no gear stick driving on tracks with a 2 mile run off. Then to top it off you as a driver can’t speak your mind about the changes.

  • McLarenfan

    You have said a lot and most of which I agree with I would love to see him win another and at McLaren but there are times were I wonder then he puts in a fantastic performance well worthy of a champion.


    Lewis is the closest to Senna that Mclaren ever had. They really miss him.
    This can also be seen as a little dig at Lewis, because Dennis knows that Lewis idolises Senna and would loved to hear Dennis rather compare him to Senna and not Jenson.
    Jenson has always been compared to Prost and wants to be compared to Prost. That is his idol. Why the sudden reference to Senna.
    The F1 circus begins.

  • Ravindra

    I guess Dennis said the same thing about Alonso comparing him with Senna in 2007. And he also did say Kimi raced like Senna after 2005 Monaco.

  • ninjamonk

    I think any driver that manages to become a world champion is worthy of it. yes the car plays a big part but there are 2 drivers in each team so its an achievement. I am a big Button fan, he is a likeable guy and if he gets a 2nd title I think he will go down in history in much the same way that Graham Hill has. Not the greatest driver but on his day a worthy world champion. If he gets more than 2 and he will be compared to Prost. If he wins no more world championships then I guess he will just be remember like the other 1 time champs.

    I think Denis was not comparing Jenson the driver to Senna just Jenson the person.

  • KevinW

    Agreed on all points

  • RBC

    Senna was the most politically incorrect most honest driver, and Jenson is a lying fake smiling snake in the grass.

  • blackdog

    RBC You know nothing about Jenson Button. Obviously you are not English. What you have written just shows us what a nasty, lying snake in the grass person you are.
    You are just a moron