Button: A better feeling at McLaren in 2014

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Jenson Button has explained how there is a much better feeling within McLaren in 2014 as the team looks to bounce back from its worst season since 1980 this year.

In 2013, neither Button nor teammate Sergio Perez managed to finish on the podium, with the team’s best result coming in the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix where Button finished in fourth place.

However, for 2014, there have been wholesale changes at Woking. Perez has been replaced by Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen, former team principal Martin Whitmarsh has been axed and replaced by ex-Lotus chief Eric Boullier, and perhaps most importantly, Ron Dennis has returned as CEO after five years away.

Ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, Button explained to the media in Melbourne how there is a different feeling at the team this year as a result of these changes.

“I would be very disappointed if we find out we are in the same situation as last year,” the 2009 world champion explained. “There is a much better feeling in the team and the car itself feels like a pretty good race car, so things look promising.”

Throughout testing, McLaren produced some good performances, and the team appears to be at an advantage by virtue of its Mercedes power unit. As a result, Button is hoping that he can return to the top step of the rostrum this year and win his first race since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix.

“Whether we are quick enough to win here, I don’t know,” he said. “There were two teams that were really fast in testing, and we weren’t one of them.

“But we have brought upgrades to Australia that hopefully will take us close to the front. We are definitely expecting to win races this year.”

This weekend’s race also marks the first since the passing of Button’s father, John, whose presence will be sorely missed in the paddock this season.

Valtteri Bottas fastest in Friday F1 practices for Russian Grand Prix

F1 Sochi Valtteri Bottas
Dan Mullan/Getty Images
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SOCHI, Russia — Valtteri Bottas paced both F1 practices Friday for the Russian Grand Prix on Friday as Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton was slowed by damaged tires in the first session.

Bottas turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 33.519 seconds in the second session that bettered Hamilton’s 1:33.786.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was more than a second behind Bottas in third at 1:34.577, followed by the McLaren Racing duo of Carlos Sainz Jr. (1:34.723) and Lando Norris (1:34.847).

In the first F1 session at Sochi, Valtteri Bottas set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 34.923 seconds, beating Ricciardo by half a second. Max Verstappen was third quickest in his Red Bull, a further 0.147 back.

Hamilton could only manage 19th fastest after locking up his tires and leaving them with a flat spot. Ferrari again struggled to find pace with Sebastian Vettel ninth and Charles Leclerc 11th.

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The first session was briefly red-flagged when Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams. Carlos Sainz Jr. spun his McLaren backward into a barrier and broke off his rear wing.

Verstappen spun during the second session but avoided damage to his car.