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Button contract extension 'crucial' for McLaren - Lowe

Laurence Edmondson October 5, 2011 « Button signs new multi-year contract with McLaren | Alonso relishing tight battle for second place »
Paddy Lowe: "He's been driving in a way that has surprised us in terms of his style" © Sutton Images

McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe has said Jenson Button's multi-year contract extension is "crucial" as the team looks to get on level terms with soon-to-be champions Red Bull over the coming years.

McLaren looks set to finish runner-up in the constructors' championship for the second consecutive season and is turning more and more of its attention to next year's car. The team has already said that it wants to adopt an evolutionary approach to its 2012 car and Lowe said Button's feedback is central to that as well as the car for 2014, when the regulations are set for an overhaul.

"The answer is crucial," Lowe responded when asked by ESPNF1 during the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in how important Button is for development. "Having a good driver with good feedback is essential still in Formula One even though these days we have far more tools to work with and more simulations etcetera. We are still very reliant on the drivers' feedback for the changes and indeed his suggestions for the changes we make.

"Having Jenson on board for years to come is now a great step, because it [provides] a very solid base in terms of a driver that we can rely on for feedback through that phase that you described [up to 2014]. Jenson obviously is very experienced and was for many years before he even came to McLaren, so that all contributes."

After outscoring Hamilton so far this season, Button has surprised some onlookers and Lowe said his more aggressive approach in some races had also impressed the team.

"We don't consider either driver better or worse; I think they're both brilliant, they are both world champions," Lowe added. "They have different styles and I think what has been really nice to see with Jenson, certainly in the last half season, is he's been driving in a way that has surprised us in terms of his style as well.

"His classic driving approach has been to be very smooth and solid and then scoring the points, without a huge amount of show let's say. But what he's actually done is deliver some fantastic races and some of the most exciting overtaking manoeuvres that we've seen all season - and that's come from Jenson. It's been great to see and he's really enjoyed doing it."