Ron Dennis says Jenson Button reminds him of Ayrton Senna
As new season revs up, McLaren boss can't speak highly enough of his star driver
McLaren boss Ron Dennis is singing the praises of his Formula One driver line-up and says he detects echoes of Ayrton Senna in Jenson Button's relationship with the team.
"In many ways there are similarities between Ayrton and Jenson," the 66-year-old group chief executive said at a preseason briefing at the McLaren factory in southern England.
"He is an incredibly good human being. He has principles and values. And the way that he conducts his life and his relationship with this team is right up there with some of the other great drivers who have been with us."
Brazilian Senna won his three titles with McLaren before he was killed at the wheel of a Williams in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. His death remains the last of a driver during a Formula One race weekend.
Button, the 2009 world champion with Brawn GP, is starting his fifth year with McLaren and has a new teammate in Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen following the departure of Mexican Sergio Perez.
The Briton's contract is up for renewal at the end of the season, when McLaren are switching from Mercedes engines to Honda power.
Dennis said Button, the most experienced driver on the starting grid in a career that dates back to 2000, was as fit as any rival and was also highly intelligent.
"Intelligence is going to become an absolute prerequisite to cope with the complications drivers have in the car, the fuel management and tyre management; it is going to require brainpower and dedication," he added.
"And then he's quick. He is capable of winning races and world championships. I'm extremely optimistic and I think he will be an incredible mentor to Kevin."
Magnussen is the son of former F1 racer Jan, who had a McLaren debut in 1995 and then moved to the Stewart team where his career stalled.