- Mercedes to 'protect itself' before McLaren-Honda era
- Button could struggle to continue winning trend
- Button hits back at Hamilton's McLaren criticism
- New title sponsor already decided - McLaren
Mercedes to 'protect itself' before McLaren-Honda era
Toto Wolff has added fuel to speculation McLaren could be preparing for Honda power in 2015.
It is now strongly rumoured that, as per the British team's contract with Mercedes, McLaren will use German engines next year for the start of the new V6 era.
Then, the switch will be made to works Honda power, as the Japanese marque returns to F1 for the new era.
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that the situation is making Mercedes nervous, because McLaren - and therefore Honda - could gain a lot of knowledge from Mercedes' approach to the V6 rules before going it alone in 2015.
Wolff, the Mercedes team shareholder and director, is quoted as suggesting the German marque is indeed nervous.
"You can never completely prevent a transfer of technology know-how," he said.
"But we can try to protect ourselves."
His comments would suggest that, given the complexities of the all-new rules next year, Mercedes' efforts to shut out McLaren could be a clear disadvantage for the Woking based team ahead of its rumoured Honda switch.
Button could struggle to continue winning trend
Jenson Button is leaving nothing to chance.
When he won the Australian grand prix in 2009, 2010 and 2012, he stayed in the very same Melbourne hotel room.
The Briton has done the same for this weekend.
And that's not all. "Yesterday I rode the same bike that I've ridden down here for the past three years," he is quoted on Thursday by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
"And I drank a beer in the same pub that I always do. Not that I'm superstitious!"
In fact, not all is going to plan for Button, who arguably had the very best car in the field as he finished last season with a win in Brazil.
Bucking the trend up and down pitlane, McLaren has not just evolved its 2012 car for the last season of the V8 engine rules.
The MP4-28 is all new, and the Woking based team is just starting to 'understand' it.
"If this was the Spanish grand prix in Barcelona, I would be worried," said Button in Australia.
"Some of the test laps that were being done there (Barcelona), we couldn't do.
"But Melbourne is completely different."
Indeed it is, and so is the weather in the southern hemisphere, but still it might not be enough. Some believe Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari and even Lotus are ahead of McLaren at the moment.
Auto Motor und Sport cited paddock whispers that, on low fuel, Button was a second behind a comparative specification of Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes as the test season concluded.
A McLaren engineer is quoted as saying: "It could take three or four races before we can reap the benefits of our approach."
Button hits back at Hamilton's McLaren criticism
Jenson Button on Thursday took issue with former teammate Lewis Hamilton's description of McLaren as an overly-controlling team.
Hamilton, who ended his long association with McLaren over the winter as he moved to Mercedes, said recently the British team is "a really controlled environment where you are restricted to do and say what you are told".
On Thursday, he repeated his claim that he is now far more relaxed in F1.
Button, who was not close friends with Hamilton over the past three seasons and often clashed with the brasher Briton, said in Melbourne that he was "very, very surprised to hear" Hamilton's criticism.
"The freedom I have in this team is phenomenal," he insisted.
"It's so not like that," said Button, referring to Hamilton's description.
"It's a very open team, free team, and a team that will do anything for you."
According to a report in the Associated Press, the difference between McLaren and Mercedes is that the German carmaker can partly fund its team with mass road car sales.
Button agreed: "In this team, you work, you have to work, and perhaps harder than in other teams.
"Initially when I came to the team, it was a shock. You learn to understand, to adapt -- that is the job."
New title sponsor already decided - McLaren
McLaren on Thursday swiftly confirmed reports that Vodafone will definitely end its seven-year title sponsorship at the end of 2013.
"Having met and exceeded all the highly ambitious targets that Vodafone had set for its title partnership with McLaren, the company has now decided to focus on business priorities away from formula one sponsorship," the British team announced in a press release.
Amid speculation it will team up with the Sergio Perez-linked Mexican giant Telmex, McLaren announced that its next title sponsor will be announced in December.
"While the current title partnership is in place ... McLaren will not disclose its new title partnership, but (the team) will make an exciting announcement on 2nd December 2013, following the last grand prix of the season," said the Woking based team.
As it has since Perez entered F1 in 2010, Telmex currently sponsors Sauber.
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