Button pondered F1 future

Andover Advertiser: Jenson Button, centre, has a new team-mate at McLaren in the form of Kevin Magnussen Jenson Button, centre, has a new team-mate at McLaren in the form of Kevin Magnussen

Jenson Button has indicated he mulled over the prospect of taking a year off from Formula One following the death of his father.

A few days after attending the funeral of dad John, who passed away earlier this month following a suspected heart attack, Button was at McLaren's Technology Centre in Woking taking the wraps off the team's new car ahead of the forthcoming Formula One campaign.

The 34-year-old did not want to speak too much about recent events, but he said enough to suggest the shock of his father's sudden death had resulted in a number of thoughts crossing his mind.

Asked as to how he had been managing, speaking to reporters, Button replied: "Not very well, but I don't want to talk about my private life just yet."

Following a round of questions with regard to the car, the new season and Ron Dennis' return in overall charge, Button was asked if there was a moment when he wondered whether he was ready to start the year, or if he needed a year out.

"Everything goes through your mind," Button replied. "But that is all I have to say on that."

With regard to the year ahead, which begins on Tuesday with the first test in Jerez, Button believes Formula One "is sitting on the edge of the unknown".

The aesthetics of the MP4-29 will have shocked many observers given the new rules this year dictate a different aerodynamic design.

The front wing now possesses a long nose, nicknamed 'anteater' by some given its protruding shape, whilst the rear wing is very narrow.

Throw in the new powertrain regulations, as 1.6-litre V6 turbo-charged units replace the old normally aspirated 2.4-litre V8s, and F1 2014 will be very different compared to recent campaigns.

For McLaren, the vast array of changes offer them the opportunity of a clean slate following one of the worst seasons in their history in 2013 when they failed to claim a podium for the first time in 33 years.

Button, who has a new team-mate for this year in Kevin Magnussen - 13 years his junior - said: "Obviously, we want to get back to the front.

"We want to have a better season than we did in 2013, too, but it's really difficult to accurately predict anything right now.

"These are such huge changes that they'll have a massive impact on the competitive order, so we need to wait and just see how things shake out.

"Our aim must be to have a smooth and productive winter, although I don't think anybody's anticipating the next few months to be easy. I can't imagine anybody in the pit lane would admit to that.

"But our aim must be to make progress all the time, and to learn positively as we go."

Assessing the challenges ahead in pre-season, Button added: "I think every single person in Formula One is sitting on the edge of the unknown. That's both exciting and unsettling in equal measure.

"There will be lots of things going through my mind when I sk.ettle myself into the cockpit for the first time in Jerez next wee

"But above all else, what I'll be looking for is that simple, positive feeling you get from knowing the car beneath you is a solid platform, one you can work with and develop throughout the season.

"I don't think anybody will be coming out of this first test feeling certain they've cracked this new formula.

"I think it'll be more a case of slowly peeling away successive layers as the engineers and designers gather more information and gain an understanding of how the cars and power-units are behaving.

"This formula is too big, and too complex, for a single team to feel secure about getting everything right and quickly establishing an advantage.

"It's about diligently chipping away at it that we'll get there."

Managing director Jonathan Neale and sporting director Sam Michael also provided input, but there was nothing from team principal Martin Whitmarsh, unsurprisingly.

It is expected Whitmarsh will be replaced by Eric Boullier, who has quit his role as team boss at Lotus, with the Frenchman replaced by owner Gerard Lopez, who has also taken on a role as co-chairman.

Dennis last week staged an internal coup at McLaren by returning to a former position as the team's group chief executive officer, ousting Whitmarsh.

McLaren have refused to comment on Whitmarsh's position since the changes occurred last Thursday, with Dennis remarking then on the possibility of appointments being made some time next month.

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