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Monday, December 05, 2011
GreenBkk.com Formula 1 | Jenson Button: 'Lewis Hamilton didn't fade, I improved' in McLaren team battle
Jenson Button: 'Lewis Hamilton didn't fade, I improved' in McLaren team battle
By Dieter Rencken and Matt Beer
Sunday, December 4th 2011, 14:47 GMT
Jenson Button believes the change in the competitive balance at McLaren this season was more due to him improving than Lewis Hamilton's form declining.
Hamilton found himself beaten in the standings by a team-mate for the first time this season, as Button took the runner-up spot in the Formula 1 world championship behind dominant champion Sebastian Vettel, and Hamilton was 43 points further back in fifth. In their first year as McLaren team-mates in 2010, Hamilton had beaten Button by 26 points as they took fourth and fifth.
Although Hamilton's performances received a lot of criticism this year, Button thinks his team-mate did little wrong - but that his own form took big strides forward as he settled into the team.
"For me personally I felt more and more comfortable and confident in the team with finding the right direction for the car," Button told reporters at the Race of Champions.
"I feel that I was driving better, and I obviously can't speak for Lewis.
"He had some pretty tough races but he also had some great races. In Abu Dhabi he was untouchable. He's still got the speed."
McLaren signed Button to a new multi-year deal this autumn, and though the 2009 champion said he had never been over-keen on long contracts, he felt honoured that the team was so eager to keep hold of him, and that it was positive for his and the team's future.
"It's something that McLaren wanted," Button said. "I'm not blowing smoke up my arse, but a team wants continuity.
"For me, I wouldn't mind taking it year on year and every year renewing the contract. I think it's a nice position to be in, and it's exciting that way.
"But it's also good to have a long-term contract in terms of knowing that the team is going to support you and help you build as a driver and you need to work together to build a car around you.
"There are two guys in a team, and obviously this team has always been Lewis's team, understandably, he's a world champion, he's achieved so much for McLaren and everyone loves that, but this year I feel I had more involvement in the car than the previous car, and that's really important to me. We've both had a lot of involvement in the car and we've really moved it forward.
"You need continuity, the team thinking that you might leave at the end of the year - it doesn't work. This is working well for me and I'm happy to be in this position."
Credit: AUTOSPORT.COM (www.autosport.com)