F1: Jenson Button feels 'the buzz is back' at McLaren as he hopes for much-improved season

Button will be heading into the new season without his late father John Button but he has a renewed optimism after a promising pre-season with the Woking-based outfit

This season promises to be a very different one for Jenson Button.

There is little the 34-year-old has not experienced in a rollercoaster, 249-race career, but he will sadly find himself in very unfamiliar waters as he tackles 2014 without father John by his side.

John Button passed away earlier this year from a suspected heart attack, having remarkably missed only one of his son's races - the 2001 Brazilian Grand Prix, and only then due to illness.

The 70-year-old was without doubt the key component of Team Button, the name for the entourage that has accompanied Jenson to virtually every race over the past few years. Aside from John, trainer Mikey Collier, manager Richard Goddard and Jessica Michibata, to whom Button recently became engaged, have been on hand to celebrate and console.


It was John, though, who was undoubtedly Jenson's guiding light, who was there for his son every step of the way from a very early age as he rose from go-karting to F1 by the time he turned 20.

They of course had their rituals, too. John, wearing a pink shirt that became his trademark item of clothing on race day, would always embrace Jenson prior to him departing for the grid.

And it is sure to be tough on Jenson when all that changes this season.

Other than a few tweets soon after his father's death, Button has been guarded with his feelings, simply stating the start to this year has been "an emotional rollercoaster".

Button may find comfort in the fact that after one of the worst years in McLaren's history last season, the team now appear to be on the right track.

McLaren finished a wretched 2013 without a podium to their name for the first time in 33 years, which resulted in an internal coup, and the removal of Martin Whitmarsh as team principal.

Ron Dennis has returned to his former role as chief executive officer and is again in overall charge of a team without a drivers' title since 2008 and, embarrassingly, a constructors' crown since 1998.

For all their resources and their history, such statistics will not sit easy with Dennis, a fiercely-proud man who is determined to see his team not only challenging for wins and titles again, but leading the way in F1.

At the forefront of that challenge are Button, now with 14 years' experience behind him, and a driver at the opposite end of the spectrum in rookie Kevin Magnussen.

While pre-season testing is rarely a guideline to what can follow over the course of a season, the past few weeks have shone some light like never before.

The plethora of regulation changes, and notably the arrival of the new 1.6-litre V6 turbo-charged power units, have meant teams have been unable to keep their cards close to their chest.

To that end, McLaren have looked promising, racking up the mileage, although Button encountered more problems than Magnussen along the way, to such an extent the Dane completed 800 more kilometres.

Understandably Button is not getting too carried away, but he at least feels McLaren could restore their credibility this season.

"The guys have done a fantastic job, and they are so pumped for this year after such a bad year," said Button.

"They don't just have a job at McLaren, they are here to race, and they will do anything to win grands prix.

"It's good to see the buzz is back in McLaren because we struggled a bit last year.

"The main thing for us is to obviously have a better season than we did in 2013, but we also want to get back to the front.

"In that respect, this car definitely has potential. There is a very good feel about it, although there is more work that needs to be done with regard to the one-lap pace."

The suggestion is McLaren will at least be knocking on the door of the early frontrunners, which at this stage appear to be Mercedes and Williams.

Button, though, is expecting the battle to swing to and fro over the course of the campaign as teams make new discoveries.

"It's going to be a very exciting season for the fans," added Button.

"I don't think anyone knows who is going to put it on pole at the first race - although I have a good idea.

"But who's going to win the championship? I really wouldn't know, it could really change.

"The cars at the first race won't necessarily be quick at the end of the year because there are going to be such different changes over the course of it.

"It's not going to be just a little bit here and there, there are going to be massive overhauls of downforce and upgrades, areas you can upgrade with the power unit."

As for changes inside McLaren, Dennis has put new building blocks in place, such as installing former Lotus team principal Eric Boullier into the newly-created role of racing director.

Another new post, yet to be filled, is that of CEO of McLaren Racing, all of which lends Button to believe the team is on the up again.

"It's good to have fresh ideas," said Button.

"When the management structure is complete, we'll be in good shape."

Hopefully the same can be said of Button come the end of a year in which his personal support structure has been dramatically altered.


Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little