Jenson Button happy with McLaren’s new direction

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Jenson Button may be facing a lot of questions about his future with McLaren and within Formula 1, but at the moment the British driver is enjoying his racing and particularly the new direction which the team is heading in.

After its worst season since 1983, a raft of changes took place at McLaren over the winter. Sergio Perez was sacked and replaced by in-house driver Kevin Magnussen, whilst team boss Martin Whitmarsh was removed. McLaren chairman Ron Dennis returned as CEO after five years away from running the F1 team, and former Lotus team principal Eric Boullier has joined as racing director.

The team certainly has undergone a lot of changes, many of which Button is pleased to have seen take place.

“The positives that I can say with the way that the team is now… Personally I like seeing Ron at the circuit, that’s a positive thing to act on the team working here, but obviously it’s more based at the factory for Ron,” he explained. “Before every session and after every session, Eric is pushing the team very very hard, and talking to us guys a lot more than I’m used to which is great because I can feed back and understanding what we have from the can and what we need from the car.

“Things at McLaren have been the same for many, many years, and now they’re starting to change. I think it’s time. It’s definitely the right direction.

“I’m sure this guy here [Boullier] feels like he’s got a lot of pressure on his shoulders. It’s gonna be a tough few months now, but an exciting few months for everyone involved with McLaren as we make our back to the front. When we do, it’s going to be enjoyable for all of us.”

Button finished third at the opening round of the season in Australia, but has since failed to hassle the front-runners. In today’s qualifying session for the Canadian Grand Prix, the 2009 world champion finished ninth, and although it is not where the team will want to be, the Briton will still be pleased to be inside the top ten and have a shot at scoring some points.

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.