sport

Not winning hurts, says Button

Jenson Button is eager to get McLaren back to the front of the grid in a year that has started with trouble behind the scenes for the team.

On Friday, McLaren became the first marque to fully reveal their new car for the coming campaign, but they did so without a team principal and a title sponsor.

For the unveiling of the MP4-29, Martin Whitmarsh was noticeable by his absence, the 55-year-old understood to have retreated to his holiday home on Ile de Re off the west coast of France.

In an internal coup last week, Whitmarsh was ousted from his role as group chief executive officer by Ron Dennis, who has returned to the position he held for many years.

In terms of team principal, Whitmarsh is set to be replaced by Eric Boullier after the Frenchman resigned from his post at Lotus a few hours ahead of McLaren's launch.

An announcement is expected soon - potentially after the conclusion of the first test in Jerez that runs from Tuesday to Friday of next week.

Regardless of personnel, the one major concern for McLaren is whether they have built a car to get them back to winning ways.

Button has stated the team cannot afford another year like 2013, when they failed to score a podium for the first time in 33 years.

"It hurt more, not winning," Button said.

"Finishing third or fourth didn't make a difference. Winning is what I missed, and that hurt like hell.

"In the short term, the aim is to start the season with a reliable car - one that's hopefully competitive too.

"Beyond that, the aim is the same as it always is: to win the championship. That aim never changes when you're with a team like McLaren."

With the major change in regulations, however, Button acknowledges that, despite the fact McLaren have been given a clean slate to erase last year's woes, there will be difficulties ahead.

"These are such huge changes that they'll have a massive impact on the competitive order, so we need to wait and just see how things shake out," Button added.

"I don't think anybody's anticipating the next few months to be easy, with every single person in Formula One sitting on the edge of the unknown. That's both exciting and unsettling in equal measure."

On a personal level, the first few weeks and races are going to be tough without father John by his side following his recent death from a suspected heart attack.

Button senior missed only one of his son's 247 grands prix, leaving the 34-year-old to indicate he mulled over taking a year off from the sport.

Asked if there was a moment when he wondered whether he was ready to start the year, or if he needed a year out, Button replied: "Everything goes through your mind, but that is all I have to say on that."