The story of McLaren and Jenson Button’s season, has of course, been one of frustration. Finding the balance on this year’s chassis has made it difficult to capture any sort of result, with a single fifth place at China his and the team’s best 2013 result.
Still, Button enters Spa-Francorchamps as defending race winner after a flawless drive a year ago. He avoided the chaos on the start from pole position, and swept through to his first Belgian Grand Prix win.
“I think back to my victory there last year: I had pretty much the perfect weekend – my car was fantastic, I got pole position and just led the whole race,” he said in the team’s weekend advance. “It was one of the most satisfying wins of my career just because I felt strong and confident for the entire weekend.
“The thing about Spa is that it just feels awesome to nail a quick lap around there – you need a car that’s perfectly synced to the driver, because it’s such a long lap, and there are so many big corners, that you need to find that perfect balance. And getting the set-up right – and running flat-out for nearly two minutes – feels incredible.”
With the two-week shop shutdown enforced during the four-week August summer break since Hungary, updates are limited and Button didn’t acknowledge any to come – other than he’ll push every lap to see what kind of rabbit he could pull out of his hat.
“We don’t go to Spa with the package to win, but I’ll still be making the most of every single lap around this place – it’ll still feel incredible,” he said.
We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.
And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.
After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.
In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.
Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.
“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.
“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.
“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”
Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.
“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”
Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.