The McLaren team will run with Mercedes-power for the final time in Abu Dhabi after twenty-years of a partnership that began back in 1995 before the team switch to Honda power for 2015.
Neither Jenson Button nor Kevin Magnussen know whether they will be retained for next season, with McLaren insisting any driver announcements will be made after December 1st, but both drivers are hopeful of ending the current season on a high as they team continue to gain competitiveness towards the end of the year.
Button has a good record in Abu Dhabi, finishing third three years in a row at the Yas Marina Circuit in 2009, 2010 and 2011. He feels the circuit is an interesting challenge with three different sections requiring different set-up characteristics.
“I really like going to Yas Marina,” stated Button. “I’ve been on the podium there three times and it’s a fun, tricky track to drive on. It’s a circuit of a number of almost completely different sections: fast corners and two long straights in Sectors One and Two, and a tight, twisty, slow-speed bit in Sector Three.
“It means set-up is an interesting challenge, but, as it’s not such a fast circuit, it doesn’t require quite as much downforce as some of the other circuits we’ve been to recently.”
Button had a strong race in Brazil two weeks ago, finishing a competitive fourth, and believed it was the result of the work done by the whole team who have continued to develop the car throughout the year.
“The result at Interlagos was a great boost for the team,” said Button. “It was the culmination of a lot of hard work by the guys and girls back at the factory and a consistent push to develop the car right up until the last race of the season.”
Tyre management in Brazil was one of the key reasons why Button was competitive, and he is hoping for more of the same in Abu Dhabi this weekend for what could be the Briton’s final race in Formula 1.
“I managed the tyres as well as I could and it paid off, so we’ll be aiming for more of the same in Abu Dhabi,” insisted Button. “Tyre wear isn’t quite co crucial there because the race takes place at dusk as the temperature is dropping, so we’ll try to get as much out of the car’s performance as we can up to the very last lap.
“Abu Dhabi is a great place and a cool location to host the last race of the season. It should be an exciting race, as everyone will be pushing to finish 2014 on a high. For the whole team our ambition is to fight hard but fair as always, and get the result that is deserving of all the hard work everyone has put in to increase our performance throughout the year. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Team-mate Magnussen will be making his first race start in Abu Dhabi this weekend, but has experienced the track before back in 2012 for McLaren during the Young Driver Test, and as thus has happy memories of the Yas Marina Circuit.
“Although I’ve never raced at the Yas Marina circuit before, I drove there in the Young Driver Test in 2012, so it’s great to finish this season by going back to a place with such good memories,” insisted Magnussen. “It’s another anti-clockwise circuit, too, like Austin and Interlagos, so by now we should definitely be in the swing of things!”
The Dane believes the fourth place for Button in the Brazil was positive for the whole team, even if his own performance saw him finish a lowly ninth. He will be hoping to get the most out of his car this weekend in Abu Dhabi to finish his rookie season on a high.
“Jenson’s result in the last race in Brazil was really positive for the whole team, and shows that our car’s performance is definitely improving,” said Magnussen. “For me personally it was a tough weekend as the car definitely had potential, but we didn’t manage to get the most out of it on my side of the garage, so that’s something we’ll really be focusing on in Abu Dhabi.
“Yas Marina is a great circuit to drive on as it has the best of both worlds: a technical, slower-speed section as well as fast, sweeping corners and long straights, which make it great fun. The atmosphere is fantastic there too, and I’m really excited about racing at dusk for the first time. I really want to finish this season with a decent result for the whole team, who have all worked so hard to keep improving our package race by race.”