Button playing long game with car development

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2009 Formula One world champion Jenson Button is willing to play the long game with his car development in order to give himself the best chance of claiming a second title.

“When we came into this season we wanted to build a car that would be strong throughout the year, and that’s why we’ve made so many changes to the way the car looks, the reason being is that it’s a very long season and we want to be able to develop all the way through the year.”

There has been little change to the regulations for 2013 meaning that many teams are using a refined version of last season’s car. Button admitted in an interview that McLaren’s strategy may not make them quick at first, but it will pay off towards the end of the season whilst other teams struggle to innovate.

“It means they [the other teams] will be strong at the first race, but they won’t be able to develop like us through the year. That is the idea we have.”

Button will be joined at McLaren by Sergio Perez in 2013 following the departure of Lewis Hamilton to Mercedes. Despite his ex-teammate setting the timesheets ablaze in testing, Button did not pick a clear front-runner for the beginning of the season.

“We still want to be quick at the first race, we want to win from the word go. But it’s possibly going to be a tough race, not just for us, but for everyone because it seems so, so close at the moment.

“But we still go to Melbourne aiming for a victory.”

Although their pace towards the end of testing was disappointing, McLaren may have the edge on their rivals if they can develop their car throughout the season. Red Bull started 2012 very poorly, and Sebastian Vettel had won just once before the Singapore Grand Prix. However, the work at Red Bull saw him take a further four victories on his way to a third title, and McLaren will hope that a similar tactic will work for them in 2013.

Fernando Alonso confirmed for Toyota LMP1 test in Bahrain

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SAKHIR, Bahrain – Fernando Alonso will take his first step towards a possible entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans when he tests an LMP1 car for Toyota on Sunday at the Bahrain International Circuit.

McLaren Formula 1 driver and two-time world champion Alonso is hoping to appear at Le Mans next year as part of his bid to become just the second man in history to complete the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’.

Alonso has already completed one leg by winning the Monaco Grand Prix twice, and made his debut at the Indianapolis 500 in May with McLaren-Honda-Andretti, retiring late on due to an engine failure.

Momentum is building for Alonso to make his Le Mans debut with Toyota in 2018, starting with a first sports car run-out in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s end-of-season rookie test in Bahrain on Sunday.

Alonso arrived in Bahrain on Saturday to watch the six-hour WEC race as an invited guest of the Bahraini royal family, with his participation in the test being confirmed after the race.

“We are very excited that Fernando will test our car. When he visited us in Cologne everyone who met him could sense his enthusiasm and passion for our sport; he is a true racer,” Toyota Gazoo Racing team president Hisatake Murata said.

“We very much respect his interest in different forms of motorsport and it is a pleasure to offer him this chance to drive a hybrid LMP1 car. It will be interesting to hear his feedback on the TS050 Hybrid.”

Alonso will share running in the Toyota car with 19-year-old Thomas Laurent, who received a test as a prize for his star display during his rookie WEC campaign this year, while regular Toyota racer Mike Conway will also complete laps.