Jenson Button's new multi-year contract with McLaren is key to the development of future Formula 1 cars from the team, according to McLaren's technical director Paddy Lowe.
McLaren confirmed on Wednesday that the British driver has signed a new, long-term deal with the team he joined at the start of the 2010 season.
"The answer is, crucial," said Lowe when asked how important was Button for the development of future cars. "Having a good driver with good feedback is essential still in Formula 1 even though these days we have far more experience with offline tools, more simulations, etc.
"We are still very reliant on the driver's feedback and his responses to the changes we make, and indeed his suggestions to changes made. Having Jenson on board for years to come is now a great step for us because it gives us a very solid base in terms of a driver that we can rely on for feedback. Jenson is obviously very experienced for many years before he even came to McLaren. So that all contributes."
Lowe also praised Button's driving during the 2011 season, the Briton having impressed with his performances to move up to second place in the standings.
"I think what's been really nice to see with Jenson is that in the last season he has been driving in a way that has surprised in terms of the style as well," he said. "Because he is sort of... his classic driving approach has been to be very smooth and solid and scoring the points without great show let's say.
"Whereas what he's actually done is deliver some fantastic races, some of the most exciting overtaking maneuvers that we have seen all season have come from Jenson and that has been great to see. I think he has really enjoyed doing it."