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Hamilton, Button looking forward to 2012 F1 season

Updated: November 27, 2011, 17:40

Red Bull driver Mark Webber, of Australia, left, winner of the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix, shakes hands with McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button, of Britain, who finished in third place, at the podium of the Interlagos race track in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

SAO PAULO(AP) McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button started looking forward to the 2012 season as soon as the checkered flag dropped in Sunday's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.

McLaren ended the year trailing the Red Bulls again, but the team's performance improved significantly in the last few races and brought signs of improvement for next year.

Hamilton retired after gearbox problems at the Brazilian GP, while Button ran well to finish third and secure second place in the drivers' championship.

"It could have been better, but not too disappointed with it,'' Hamilton said. "I'm happy it's done, now looking forward to next year.''

Hamilton finished the season in fifth place in the standings after three victories, including two weeks ago at the Abu Dhabi GP.

"Looking forward to a little bit of down time and hopefully some time with family and friends, and then some good training and just come attacking next year. I've got lots I can improve on,'' he said.

Button also won three times, and his strong run at Interlagos on Sunday earned him second place in the drivers' standings ahead of race winner Mark Webber.

"It's been a good year, it's not been a perfect year but it's been a good year,'' Button said. "We can really take a lot from this season, a lot of positives, sort out a few little issues that we had with reliability and I think we will be looking pretty good.''

He said the offseason will be key for McLaren to try to reduce the gap to the Red Bulls next year.

"Hopefully we can start the year off well in testing and not do all of our setup work at the first race,'' Button said, referring to the team's struggles ahead of the beginning of this season. "That's the aim for 2012, and I hope we can achieve that.''

McLaren finished second in the constructors' championship, behind Red Bull and ahead of Ferrari and Renault.

"All things considered, 2011 was a pretty decent year for us,'' McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said. "We finished second in the constructors' world championship, 122 points ahead of the third-placed team and 332 points ahead of the fourth-placed team, but we aim to win outright. Next season we intend to do just that.''


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