Jenson Button has made another push to remain at McLaren after suggesting experience is the key if the team’s rekindled relationship with Honda is to hit the ground running.
The Japanese engine manufacturer is returning to Formula One for the first time since pulling their team out of the sport ahead of the 2009 season — the year which saw Button crowned champion driving for a Brawn team which rose from the ashes of the defunct Honda outfit.
McLaren will see a 20-year partnership with Mercedes come to an end before the 2015 season and have signed a deal to be reunited with Honda, with which they enjoyed a period of domination in the late 1980s.
Button, the most experienced driver on the grid at the moment, with 261 Grand Prix to his name, may not be a part of the reunion, however, as his contract with the Woking team expires at the end of this year.
Although he has said he is “pretty happy” that a new deal may soon be in place to see him stay with the team for a sixth year, the likes of fellow champions such as Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have all been linked with a McLaren seat for 2015.
Both Button and current team-mate Kevin Magnussen will fight to retain theirs, with Button suggesting a driver with plenty of know-how is a must moving forward.
“It would help them if they had experienced drivers driving their car, for development reasons,” the 34-year-old told Autosport.
“It is a power unit that you are going to be trying to fill in a lot of holes with the ERS (energy recovery system), so you need driver input and feel, from experience — you definitely benefit from that.”
Button has plenty of history with Honda, racing for the marque for three years before they unexpectedly pulled the plug, but believes McLaren will know just how to build a fruitful relationship for all parties.
“The things where a team could struggle with working with a Japanese manufacturer, if you didn’t work on it, is Japanese language and culture, but I think McLaren understands that,” Button said.
“They’ve worked with Honda before — a long time ago — but they have worked with them before, and I don’t see any issues, as long as they spend enough time working with Honda closely.
“I don’t mean just the engineers or the aerodynamicists — the mechanics have to spend time understanding the Japanese culture and way of working as well.
“They all know that and are doing that, so I think it will be a good partnership and good understanding from the word go.”
With the Japanese engine firm ready to return, this year’s Formula One World Championship returns to Suzuka at the weekend and it is a race which Button — who is engaged to Japanese fashion model Jessica Michibata — always looks forward to.
“Coming to Suzuka feels like a second home race, for me,” he said.
“Japan is such a special place and my win here in 2011 really stands out as a personal highlight. The fans there really set it apart and there’s an incredible atmosphere about the whole place all weekend.
“It’s also one of the best circuits we come to; a real challenge and incredibly unforgiving, which makes it all the more rewarding when you get it right.”
Button will be hoping for a better result than last time out, when he was forced to retire from the Singapore Grand Prix, his first non-classified finish in two years, as he looks to add to his rather modest total of 72 points for the season, in 7th overall.
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