"Eric Boullier [the new racing director of McLaren] definitely brings good ideas to the team and I think it will work. It’s just going to take a bit of time. It is always more difficult than you think it will be because you are racing against the best teams in the world. F1 is such a competitive sport right now. Sometimes you just don’t get the results, but you are definitely making progress.”
Button now has to cope with rising star Kevin Magnussen as his team-mate, but it is not the first time he has had a tough rival sharing the garage with him. Hamilton was serious competition. Button is watching Hamilton this year with interest. He knows about racing with a dominant car, having won the title with the Brawn-Mercedes in 2009, but he sees no comparison with this year’s Mercedes AMG domination.
Inside Mercedes-Benz's F1 powerhouse
“I remember how much quicker I was than other teams in the races,” he says. “It was two to three-tenths of a second at best. Mercedes are a second quicker than anyone, so it is completely different. We were in a team that was doing a great job but had no future at that time. We started with a great car, an awesome car to drive, but we did not have the development. People were always going to catch us because the team was not willing to develop the car.
"They thought we had done enough, whereas with Mercedes they have the money and the resources and they will keep pushing to the end.
“When you are winning races and suddenly you don’t win, it is difficult. You’re thinking, ‘I’m on a winning streak here, I am strong’, but it goes wrong. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. Lewis and Nico [Rosberg] are both intelligent guys and they are both quick, but sometimes it’s just whose head is in the right place at the right time.
“I think Lewis is unbelievably quick. I said last year, when he had some bad races, that Lewis will shock everyone again with his speed, and he has. He is very quick and his speed gives him confidence. He is a lot more confident than I have ever seen him.
“He was an interesting team-mate. I learned a lot from him and I think he learned a lot from me. If you beat Lewis, you know you’ve done a great job. Throughout our last season he was quicker than me in qualifying, but I scored more points than him over the three years, so I’m doing something right! I think you have to be careful on relying solely on your natural ability.
"That is something you are gifted, but you really have to work on other areas to be a great F1 driver these days. I am always looking for new areas to improve myself. That’s why this sport is great: in F1 there’s always something more to learn.
“Confidence is so important,” he adds. “It’s a big part of the sport. When you have a great car, you are confident, like Sebastian [Vettel] was at the end of last season. It just flows and you keep building the confidence and you always get the best from the car. You don’t make mistakes.”
Over the winter Button lost his father, John, and that means that this year has not always been easy.
“Every race is emotional,” he says. “I see a lot of pictures of him and it is a strange feeling. I am sure we all have that feeling when we lose someone. The British GP is probably going to be the toughest of the year. But F1 is what he loved more than anything in life, and that gives me the feeling that I want to race for longer and longer, because that is the connection I really had with my dad.”
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