McLaren boss: Don't be fooled by Jenson Button's laid back persona
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team principal Martin Whitmarsh has warned rivals not to be fooled by Jenson Button's relaxed persona ahead of the new Formula One season.
The Woking-based outfit head to Spain next week for the first track test of their latest MP4-28 car that was unveiled at their Technical Centre headquarters today.
McLaren endured a challenging 2012, regularly boasting the fastest car on the grid but failing to turn that into consistent results.
But with Mexican Sergio 'Checo' Perez replacing Mercedes-bound Lewis Hamilton and considerable work carried out not only to target consistency but also to adapt to new, easier-wearing Pirelli tyres with a greater temperature range the team are in confident mood.
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Whitmarsh believes Button, originally from Frome, can launch an assault on the drivers' title even if his demeanour appears laid back.
He said: "Seeing him come back from his hard winter he's looking very tanned, very fit and very hungry. Jenson is a known package to us, we are very privileged to have him in the team.
"He's a real asset, a team player and a winner. People sometimes misinterpret Jenson because he is so laid back and comfortable in his skin. People wonder 'has he got the hunger to do it?' and then you see him on he track.
"As a team principal in the garage with him it has sometimes been hard for me as well."
Whitmarsh added that only slight changes being made to regulations ahead of the new season should work in their favour to improve on a previous year he admitted was no good enough.
"You think to last year, we started with the fastest car and ended with the fastest car that was always competitive," he said.
"Clearly we cannot be satisfied with an outcome when we win races and were fast most of the time but without securing the championship.
"The team is being very mindful as it learns about this car. It's an evolution in processes of development, reliability and looking at processes of how we run our team.
"It's very clear these days with regulations remaining relatively stable that it is very unforgiving if you don't score points as you soon slip behind.
"Fernando Alonso and Ferrari probably didn't have the quickest car but were in contention. They maximised the points from the product they had and we didn't. We've worked very on that."