Jenson Button hails biggest improvement by Honda in 14 months

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Jenson Button believes that the step forward made by Honda with its power unit ahead of the 2016 Formula 1 season is the biggest in 14 months.

Button and his McLaren team endured a miserable 2015 season largely thanks to issues with the power unit provided by Honda upon its return to the sport as an engine supplier.

The Japanese manufacturer came under heavy fire throughout the season, leaving it with plenty of work to do over the winter to avoid a repeat in 2016.

McLaren debuted the new power unit for this season on Tuesday in Barcelona, with Button getting his first taste of it when he took over from teammate Fernando Alonso on Wednesday.

Speaking after his day in the car, Button said that the progress made by Honda was not only noticeable, but also impressive.

“I would say it’s the biggest improvement yet with the power unit over the last 14 months, which is good,” Button said.

“I think the improvement is good, but obviously we’re still a long way off the other guys, and you can see that in the speed traps. You can definitely feel the difference though, in the initial part of the straight.

“We’ve got the reliability sorted I think, so we can really, really push the performance with the power unit.”

Although Button is confident that McLaren can be more competitive in 2016 as a result of the progress made by Honda, he still feels there is plenty of work to be done over the remainder of the winter testing period.

“I’m hoping we won’t be hanging off the back [of other cars], but there’s still a lot of work before I feel that we’re properly competitive yet,” Button said.

“There’s still a lot of work needed over the next two days to find a set-up that really works for us, because we’re not there.”

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing

Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.