Ron Dennis says he’s satisfied with the performance of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen in 2014, but confirms that McLaren is keeping its options open on future driver choice as it enters the Honda era.
The names of Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have all been connected with the team, although in theory none are free until 2016 or even later.
Dennis was reminded that a few weeks ago he said that Jenson had to “try harder,” a remark that created something of a stir at the time.
“Anyone who has actually seen the TV interview in question will know that there was an element of humour in what I said,” he told the official F1 website. “Having said that, did I also intend to give Jenson a bit of a wake-up call? Yes, I did. But I did it softly, not maliciously. Indeed, perhaps the efficacy of my strategy was confirmed by the fact that Jenson immediately reacted by achieving his best race result of the year.
“Anyway, to tackle the specificity of your question, yes, I’m satisfied with both Jenson and Kevin. They’re both capable of winning Grands Prix in a competitive car – Jenson has proved that 15 times in his long Formula One career, and Kevin has already demonstrated abundant pace in his so-far-short Formula One career – but clearly we’re not giving them a competitive car at the moment.
“Nonetheless, despite that, I want them to give their best – and, at the same time, be responsible enough to appreciate that McLaren will always make efforts to hire the best drivers available. If such opportunities arise, we’ll appraise them; we always have and we always will. All great Formula One teams are the same in that regard. But we’re not in a position to do that at the moment.”
Asked about the possibility of attracting a marquee name such as Vettel or Alonso he added: “As I say, we’ll always look to employ the best drivers available – but they have to be available, don’t they? Having said that, for the avoidance of doubt, Jenson and Kevin represent an excellent blend of capable experience and youthful promise, and we’re very happy with both of them. The fact that we’re keeping an eye on what a few other drivers are up to in no way contradicts that, because, as I say, if opportunities arise, we’ll appraise them – we always have and we always will.”
Asked if any driver could be available in the right circumstances he said: “Well, that depends on whether you respect drivers’ contracts or not, and I do.”