Jenson Button is adamant that the departure of technical director Paddy Lowe will not halt McLaren’s momentum ahead of the new Formula One season.
Somerset-born Button and McLaren will have to do without a man who has given the team 19 years’ service as big-spending Mercedes have again managed to secure another highly-rated talent by waving their cheque book.
Although Lowe has another year remaining on his contract, he will have no involvement in McLaren’s Formula One operation during the coming campaign that begins in Australia on March 17.
Button admitted towards the end of last year he would be disappointed to see Lowe leave because “that’s the guy who’s going to help me achieve in the future”.
The day after McLaren confirmed Lowe’s exit, with Tim Goss stepping up from his role as engineering director, Button believes there is enough strength in depth to ensure he will not be too sorely missed.
“I really like Paddy,” said Button, speaking at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking. “It’s been good fun working with him over the past three years, not just in a working relationship but also as a friend because he is a good guy, a fun character.
“But things change, he wants to try something new, a new challenge, which is fair play to him. He has to think about number one, so good luck to him.
“For us, will it make a massive difference? For me, having Tim in the position he is now in – fantastic. He was exceptional in his previous role and I think he will be in this role. He is the guy who designed the 2012 car that won seven races last year, so he knows exactly what he is doing.
“When I came to this team it wasn’t about one individual. I didn’t come here because Paddy was here, I didn’t come here because Lewis [Hamilton] was here.
“I came here because this is McLaren, with its heritage and history – a word we always use, but it is the truth – and its strength in depth.
“It’s not about one individual, it’s about the full team, and Paddy leaving is part of the sport, people move around and go to different places. But this team will succeed with or without Paddy in the future.”
McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale has confirmed he learned of Lowe’s intentions to quit around eight weeks ago.
Although reputed to be one of the most highly-paid members of the team, Mercedes – who lured Hamilton away on a £15 million-per-year contract – simply made Lowe an offer he could not refuse.
Dismissing suggestions McLaren lacked the cash to keep Lowe, Neale said: “In the marketplace at the moment, if you’ve a team and you want to go out and buy some short-term know-how then you can pay telephone number salaries, if that’s what your business model is.
“We will certainly miss Paddy, he has been with us a long period of time. He’s been here 19 years, and I’ve personally worked with him for 12. He is a great guy and on a personal level I’m sorry to see him go and do something else.”