Jenson Button says McLaren will still win races despite the loss of technical director Paddy Lowe to rivals Mercedes.
Button, the 2009 world champion, said Lowe's move was part and parcel of F1 and praised his successor, Tim Goss.
Continue reading the main story
“I didn't come here because Paddy was here, I came here because this is McLaren, with its heritage and history and its strength in depth”
"He was exceptional in his previous role. He knows exactly what he is doing," said Button.
"It's not about one individual, it's about the full team. Paddy leaving is part of the sport. This team will succeed with or without Paddy."
Button moved to McLaren in 2010 after winning the drivers' crown with Brawn GP, the team that is now Mercedes.
"I didn't come here because Paddy was here," said Button, "I didn't come here because Lewis [Hamilton] was here. I came here because this is McLaren, with its heritage and history and its strength in depth."
Button will be starting his 14th season in Formula 1 at the Australia Grand Prix on March and wished Lowe well in his new career.
"I really like Paddy," he said. "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."
But McLaren's managing director Jonathan Neale said: "People are prepared to pay exotic salaries and wait 12 or 18 months, or longer in some cases. That's the state of the market," he said.
"It would be disappointing if we weren't regarded as a place to hire good people because then I wouldn't be doing my job. The real test is whether we have got a system in place to pick up people from underneath, and I believe we have," he added.
"In the market place 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. From time to time we have all done it."
McLaren have announced that
Lowe will stay with the team on "gardening leave"
until the end of the 2013 season and that Goss would take over immediately.
Last year's Goss-designed McLaren car won seven races, three of them for Englishman Button, who will be partnered by Mexican Sergio Perez following Hamilton's move to Mercedes.