Jenson Button is hoping that his McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso “is really quick and annihilates me” at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix.
In a rare statement of hope and encouragement for his principal rival, the 2009 world champion was showing how important the introduction of Honda’s latest engine in Alonso’s car could be for the future of the team.
“Normally, when you’re teammates, you want exactly the same engine,” said Button on Thursday.
“But I’m hoping it’s a really good upgrade. I hope he’s really quick and annihilates me all weekend! It’s unusual to say that.
“When you’re fighting for a world championship, or fighting at the front, everything has to be the same, but in our situation, it doesn’t matter. It’s about getting it on the car and proving it out reliability-wise.”
Two-time world champion Alonso will be the driver given an upgraded ‘Specification Four’ Honda engine for the entire weekend while Button continues to run with the Japanese company’s older unit.
Button is scheduled to have one of the newer engines in his car for the Mexican Grand Prix.
He finished ninth at the Russian Grand Prix and forecast that, weather permitting, the team -– which has struggled for pace, performance and reliability all season –- will enjoy the Circuit of the Americas more.
“It’s much better than Sochi for us,” said the Briton.
“We scored points there because we were reliable and did nothing wrong. Here, hopefully, we should be more competitive and be able to fight for points.”
He added that the weather forecast -– for torrential rain -– was “mental” and said: “It looks like the whole of Texas is going to be underwater!
“It could be tricky. I’m hoping it rains today (Thursday) so I can go for a run and see where the puddles are.
“This track has so much elevation, you’re going to get pools of water on it.”
Alonso said he felt it was realistic to believe that McLaren can gain more than two seconds per lap with their upgrades before the start of next season.
“Yes,” he said. “Two and a half seconds -– if we can improve two and a half seconds, we will win next year.”
“It’s realistic, yes, but the thing is that we need to work very hard with a very high discipline all winter and all to be united, because in this new Formula One everything is a package.
“It’s all combined that makes the perfect car and we are working on that. We have understood that and we are trying our best. It’s a very big gap.” – Agence France-Presse