Ron Dennis warns Jenson Button 'to try harder' as McLaren consider 2015 options
Fallen superpower continue to be linked with Alonso and Hamilton
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 02/07/14 9:05am
McLaren executive chairman Ron Dennis says he is happy with Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen but has challenged Button to try to improve on his performanc
Ron Dennis has warned Jenson Button to up his game as McLaren continue to evaluate their driver line-up options for 2015.
Button’s contract expires at the end of this season and the team are yet to open formal talks about an extension with the 2009 World Champion.
Although Button heads team-mate Kevin Magnussen in the standings, the rookie has out-qualified Button in two of the last three events and the Dane's second-place finish in the season-opening Australian GP remains McLaren’s best result since November 2012. And Dennis, it seems, believes Button ought to be comprehensively beating the 21-year-old newcomer.
“I’m happy with the drivers in the sense I think they are giving their best,” the McLaren chief told Sky Sports F1. “I’m sure Kevin is giving a big wake-up call to Jenson. In some ways you say: ‘Great, we’ve made a great choice with Kevin.’ But in other ways you say: ‘Come on Jenson, you are a World Champion and absolutely one thing you can do on a consistent basis – and you should be doing it – is beating your team-mate.’
“Do I want him to try harder? Of course I do. He’s a highly-paid grand prix driver. We are not giving him the best car and yes, it would be challenging for him to win in this car, but he could do his bit and Kevin has to make it as difficult for him as possible.”
While the uncompetitive MP4-29, a lacklustre successor to the woeful MP4-28, remains McLaren’s principal concern, the team have made clear they are in no rush to finalise their driver line-up for next season, when they will be powered by Honda engines, as they monitor the potential availability of the sport’s leading men.
Dennis was reputed to have sent Sebastian Vettel ‘a love letter’ at the start of the year in a bid to lure the reigning World Champion out of Red Bull and McLaren are believed to have opened tentative talks with Lewis Hamilton to gauge the possibility of their prodigal son making a sensational return. A more realistic, but nevertheless remote, possibility is a return for Fernando Alonso, seven years after his solitary season with the Woking outfit ended in bitter acrimony and a swift divorce.
Yet with Alonso deprived of a championship-contending car at Ferrari, and McLaren stuck in the doldrums, necessity may yet prove the mother of the most unlikely of reunions.
“We want to win races and we will always hope that the best available drivers would want to drive our cars,” declared Dennis.
“The key word is available because people have contracts and we respect those contracts, but if Lewis was in a position to drive for us next year, as with many of the other top drivers if they were in that position, we would love to have them on board.
“But no one should ever feel threatened as a driver or a mechanic, all we want to do is win and we have to take considered positions and considered decisions on that process.”
Watch the 2014 British GP live on Sky Sports F1. Extensive coverage of the Silverstone race weekend begins with Friday Practice from 9.45am on July 4.