'Button's a contender'
Whitmarsh claims Briton can build on his Australian GP success
Last Updated: 20/03/12 8:36am
Jenson Button: Celebrates his victory in Australia
McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh is confident Jenson Button has a realistic shot at this year's F1 world title after winning in Australia.
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Button produced a stunning drive to claim his 13th career victory in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix - the third time in the last four years he has triumphed around Melbourne's Albert Park.
After passing team-mate Lewis Hamilton on the run down to the first corner, Button proceeded to dominate for 57 of the 58 laps with seemingly effortless ease.
There is an obvious danger of getting too carried away after just one race, but as far as Whitmarsh is concerned the early signs are promising.
"He has just got stronger and stronger," said Whitmarsh. "He has such a mature, laid-back, easy manner that belies the underlying hunger to win he possesses.
"He must now believe he's in with a good chance of a proper title run this year, and I think he is.
"Providing we can continue to improve the car, not make mistakes and be reliable, there's no reason why we cannot recapture that."
"Jenson must now believe he's in with a good chance of a proper title run this year, and I think he is."
Martin Whitmarsh Quotes of the week
Given McLaren are renowned for their rate of development, there is the obvious hope that after starting the season strongly they can continue in such a vein.
Often in the past McLaren have been forced to play catch up, but on this occasion Whitmarsh said: "We are starting from the right place.
"We know we have to improve the car on a race-by-race basis, but we've some formidable competitors in Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, and Lotus look strong as well.
"It is pretty tight, as it should be. This is F1. It should be difficult to win, and it is.
"But we're already looking forward to this weekend (in Malaysia). We do fancy our chances there, but who knows. Let's see how we go."
Whitmarsh was left feeling that after starting one-two on the grid, albeit with Hamilton on pole ahead of Button, then they should also have been one-two in the race.
That would likely have been the case but for a safety car on lap 37 that cost Hamilton and played into the hands of Sebastian Vettel who grabbed second ahead of the 27-year-old Briton.
Hamilton left Albert Park appearing somewhat disconsolate, which was akin to his dark days last year when things did not go his way.
Whitmarsh, however, could understand Hamilton being disgruntled, adding: "You can see in this team that whoever wins is delighted and whoever doesn't win isn't happy.
"Lewis wasn't going to be happy being third, but when Lewis does starts getting happy with that, or beaten by a team-mate, he won't be the Lewis we all love and admire."