AUSTIN • Jenson Button is hoping that his McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso "is really quick and annihilates me" at this weekend's United States Grand Prix.
In a rare statement of hope and encouragement for his principal rival, the 2009 world champion was showing how important the introduction of Honda's latest engine in Alonso's car could be for the team's future.
"Normally, when you're team-mates, you want exactly the same engine," said Button on Thursday. "But I'm hoping it's a really good upgrade. I hope he's really quick and annihilates me all weekend! It's unusual to say that.
"When you're fighting for a world championship, or fighting at the front (of a race), everything has to be the same, but in our situation, it doesn't matter. It's about getting it on the car and proving it out reliability-wise."
Two-time world champion Alonso will be the driver given an upgraded "specification four" Honda engine for the entire weekend, while Button continues to run with the Japanese company's older unit.
Button is scheduled to have one of the newer engines for the Nov 1 Mexican GP. He finished ninth at the Russian GP and is hoping to enjoy the Circuit of the Americas more.
"It's much better than Sochi for us," said the Briton. "We scored points there because we were reliable and did nothing wrong. Here, hopefully, we should be more competitive and be able to fight for points."
Alonso said he felt it was realistic to believe that McLaren can gain more than two seconds per lap with their upgrades before the start of next season.
"Yes, 21/2 seconds - if we can improve 21/2 seconds, we will win next year," said the Spaniard.
"It's realistic, yes, but the thing is that we need to work very hard with a very high discipline all winter and all to be united, because in this new Formula One, everything is a package."