McLaren move ‘did masses’ for Button's reputation

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McLaren technical director Tim Goss says Jenson Button's decision to join the Woking-based outfit in the wake of his 2009 title with Brawn GP “did masses for his reputation”.

Despite his credentials and achievements, the Briton was seen as the product of the dominant BGP01. When Mercedes took over Ross Brawn’s team, Button found refuge alongside Lewis Hamilton, with few expecting the reigning world champion to challenge his younger team-mate.

“A lot of the pundits believed that it was a mistake, and he was going to be dominated by Lewis, but he proved them all wrong,” Goss recalled for McLaren’s official website.

“Right from the start it was quite clear that he could mix it with the best, and it actually did masses for his reputation.

“Up until that point people had put him down as lucky to be in the Brawn, a car that was quick. When he arrived at McLaren he proved that he was one of the greatest drivers out there.

“Previously we’d had Heikki Kovalainen partnered with Lewis,” “And that was quite a good partnership, because Heikki pushed Lewis in qualifying, but was rarely quite as quick in the race, so he never took points off Lewis.

“Some of us were a bit disappointed to see Heikki go, but once we realised we’d signed Jenson, there was real excitement about it. We knew he was a great driver, and he’d proved it.”

Button ended up outscoring Hamilton 672-657 over the three seasons they spent together at Woking, though the latter claimed 10 race wins against eight for the former.

The Somerset racer’s finest campaign for McLaren came in 2011 when he finished runner-up to Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel with three victories and 12 podium finishes.

“That season he kept quite a cool head,” Goss added. “Whereas Lewis went a bit astray, to Jenson’s benefit. Lewis picked up loads of penalties. He was still quick, but he leaked away too many points.

“Jenson always delivered, he was putting in the podiums race after race. He was always there, and a lot of times he came from behind, it wasn’t that he qualified up there necessarily. Clearly the car was right for him and he got the most out of it, just from performance and professionalism.”

Button drove what could be his 305th and final race in Abu Dhabi last month. The 36-year-old has 15 race wins and eight pole positions to his name.

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