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Button defends Hamilton's season

ESPNF1 Staff
December 5, 2011 « McLaren goes carbon-neutral | FOTA existence is 'vital' - Mercedes »
Jenson Button feels he has had more involvement with McLaren's development this season © Sutton Images
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Jenson Button has defended Lewis Hamilton's season, saying that he improved throughout the year rather than Hamilton underperforming.

Hamilton endured a difficult campaign, finishing fifth in the championship standings with three retirements as he was beaten by a team-mate across a whole season for the first time in his Formula One career. Button, however, said that Hamilton had shown with his victory in Abu Dhabi that he was still able to produce his best performances, but that he himself had raised his own standard throughout the season.

"For me personally I felt more and more comfortable and confident in the team with finding the right direction for the car," Button said at the Race of Champions. "I feel that I was driving better, and I obviously can't speak for Lewis. He had some pretty tough races but he also had some great races. In Abu Dhabi he was untouchable. He's still got the speed."

Having signed a new three-year deal with McLaren towards the end of the season, Button said that he was happy that the team wanted to tie him down long-term having previously been happy to work off short-term contracts.

"It's something that McLaren wanted; I'm not blowing smoke up my arse, but a team wants continuity. For me, I wouldn't mind taking it year on year and every year renewing the contract. I think it's a nice position to be in, and it's exciting that way. But it's also good to have a long-term contract in terms of knowing that the team is going to support you and help you build as a driver and you need to work together to build a car around you."

Button also said he had been able to have more input in the development of the MP4-26 this year, and likewise has more heavily influenced the 2012 car.

"There are two guys in a team, and obviously this team has always been Lewis's team, understandably, he's a world champion, he's achieved so much for McLaren and everyone loves that, but this year I feel I had more involvement in the car than the previous car, and that's really important to me. We've both had a lot of involvement in the car and we've really moved it forward."

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