Hamilton and Button off to a smiling start but the test is yet to come

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All smiles for Hamilton and Button at the McLaren launch

If yesterday’s Ferrari launch left us all worried that all the 2010 F1 cars were going to look like fat RB5s, the revealing of the McLaren MP4-25 put that thought from our minds.

But just as interesting as the car was our first glimpse of how Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button get on as team mates.

McLaren tend to pick explosive driver pairings – or, in the words or Martin Whitmarsh, they “have a philosophy of getting the best drivers we can.” There’s no arguing that McLaren have usually got the best drivers available to them, but whether that’s been a beneficial or destructive philosophy is up for debate.

Paiting any two F1 drivers together involves a clash of egos, whether it’s Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa or Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg.

But put two champions together and you magnify the potential for problems – which is probably why no-one’s tried it since 1989 Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost raced together at the same team.

Today McLaren’s latest power pairing were all smiles. Facing the press Button batted away questions about whether he earns less than his team mate. Then Hamilton waded in, telling a reporter “don’t believe everything you read. He’s the world champion and he’s been welcomed into the team.”

Button returned the favour later while answering questions from fans. One asked Button, “With refuelling banned, will your driving style give you an advantage over Hamilton?” “I think we can call him Lewis,” he quipped back, patting his new team mate on the back.

It doesn’t take a cynic to see that teams stress the ‘mate’ in ‘teams mates’ while privately the pair work on every way they have of beating each other.

But as Hamilton admitted, tight testing restrictions means they only have seven days each in the car each between now and the start of the season to suss the MP4-25 and help the team out-develop Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull and the rest. And that means working together.

Once that’s done and the serious business of racing begins, that’s when we’ll see how well this all-champion, all-British line-up will work.

Image (C) www.mclaren.com

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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52 comments on “Hamilton and Button off to a smiling start but the test is yet to come”

  1. I really think they’ll be fine. They’ve always seemed to get on well when you’ve seen them in press conferences, podium ceremonies etc…

    (Plus I think Martin Whitmarsh will have made it clear that he doesn’t want them to misbehave!!)

    1. Agreed. But competition between teammates puts a whole new stress on the relationship – especially if the have the same car. One begins to doubt the car and the team if he is performing substandard to the teammate and often fails to step up to the level they need to be at and claim the responsibility for himself. only time will tell. ROLL ON 2010!

      1. i think hamilton is 100 times better driver but still not the best f1 driver

    2. nb, Hamilton and Button have never been on the podium together, or by extension in a post race together.

      1. Australia 2009?

        1. No, if I recall correctly, I remember seeing Trulli on the podium.

          1. CounterStrike
            30th January 2010, 7:08

            The man who sold the world

      2. They were all set to share the podium at Monza 2009- until Lewis hit the self destruct ‘Button’ on the last lap…

    3. Button and Hamilton have never been on the podium at the same time

  2. CounterStrike
    29th January 2010, 18:16

    I think the two will get on like brothers. Lots of British pride at stake here. And Button’s not a political manipulator like Alonso.

    1. Hamilton kinda is though.
      Definately a player of mindgames.
      His fathers a bit of an operator as well, will Button snr definately isn’t.

      1. Since when has Hamilton been into mind games? Any substance to that remark?

        1. CounterStrike
          29th January 2010, 19:29

          Problem with British media is that they introspect too much & end up being overcritical on their own people.

          1. who cares what the press think?

        2. Jhonnie Siggie
          30th January 2010, 0:46

          Yes….. I blew Alonso away in my rookie year. First punch Lewis

          1. as a matter of fact…he did..haha..just that alonso couldn’t take it..

  3. I reckon Button has more or less the required temprament for handling Hamilton.
    I don’t reckon they’ll be best of friends but i think it will remain like today, cordial, polite and with a rather tense backdrop.

    1. I wonder how experimental parts will be sorted. Most the time the teams only have enough new parts for one car, who gets them?

      1. Hamilton was asked that question and said it only happened last year as a one-off when they had the new floor for the N�rburgring. Whitmarsh said the same thing at the time:

        Whitmarsh wants Hamilton and Kovalainen to have equal equipment

  4. I don�t foresee any problems, just like I don�t think Alonso and Massa will have any problems at Ferrari despite what some seem to think, but as has been pointed out it is easy to be friends and get on well at this stage the hard part is when both drivers are fighting for the championship.

  5. very well said. I think the ferrari temmates are more likely to have problems because i see massa being faster than alonso in qualy sometimes. If button gets close to hamilton, everything changes. The pair that’s going to get along better, from my point of view is mercedes. schumacher will be faster in qualy and of course during the race.

  6. What shone to me today was how relaxed and confident Button was. I think they will develope the car together and then let rip on track, I dont see anything like the same trouble as Alonso.

  7. Didn’t Prost say that his biggest mistake was leaving McLaren?

  8. I think the main stream media really want there to be a feud between them. I could sense it in some of their questions today. I think how they behave towards the media will go a long way to showing if they have a good working relationship or not.

    This will be tough for Button. He is the elder of the two and is probably the more maturer in terms of F1 career, so I don’t think he would want to start burning energy getting in to a public intra-team battle with Lewis.

    I think Lewis holds the key to this relationship, if he wants to make it awkward and hostile then he could. They don’t need any repeat of Hungary 2007. Lewis made some mature remarks today which is pleasing. They will need each other if the car is not performing.

    I really don’t want this to get out of hand mainly from a patriotic perspective, there will be no real winners if they end up dragging each other through the media with petty claim and counter claim and Lewis knows all too well that contributed to him losing the title in 2007.

    Thanks for all the updates today Keith, excellent as always.

  9. There’s been quite a lot of talk about the ego clash of 2 WDCs in this team. Truth be told, I think Jenson and Lewis will compliment each very well during the season. Both are big enough to deal with the situation if one scores heavily while the other hits gremlins in a weekend, though do suspect the results from testing might well pull the engineers in opposite directions. Believe the longer wheel base might well provide a car that Jenson finds easier to drive initially, but fully expect Lewis to be on it in short order.

  10. Terry Fabulous
    29th January 2010, 20:41

    Fair to say that most F1Fanatics on this blog think that Lewis is going to give Jenson a real thumping

    (Kind of like the thumping that Kimi was going to give Felipe but that’s for another day!)

    If Jenson gets up over Lewis… Where do we place him?

    Most people would have him in their top ten on the grid, hopefully their top five.

    But if he beats Lewis, does that make him number 1?

    Big opportunity for Jenson, long time since a World Champion starts the season as underdog to beat his own teammate, so that should take the pressure off a bit.

  11. I dont think there is any problem between them on any level. the question is, what will happen if one of them is having a great season and the other a nightmare season. then stresses could be placed on the one who is behind.

  12. I have to hope that these two can actually get along and don’t end up like Alonso and Hamilton did in 07. Then again, that did make for an interesting year with the whole team dynamic. It will be interesting to see just who comes out on top in this battle. Whether Jenson can stick with Lewis or if it is the other way round will be a huge story this season. I can’t wait.

  13. Prisoner Monkeys
    29th January 2010, 22:25

    Despite being a massive Button fan, I think Hamilton is going to have the upper hand for mot of the season. That said – and this isn’t my latent JB speaking here – I don’t think it’s going to be the total whitewash people have been predicting. Jenson Button is an excellent driver, especially when he’s in the right machine; people claim he only won the 2009 title because of his car, but look at his 2004 results when he was the best-placed non-Ferrari driver at season’s end. It seems people can only remember asfar back as 2007 and 2008, when he was forced to drive an utter dog of a car.

    If you want an endorsement of Button’ abilities, look at Ross Brawn who said he regretted not taking a closer look at Button when he was working for Ferrari. Based on his reputation within the Formula 1 paddock, Brawn is not the kind of man who would say something like that lightly at all.

    1. I’d actually go as far as saying Jenson Button was more impressive in 2004 than in most of 2009

  14. They make a great team of two champions. Hope Anthony Hamiton ( who looks like rapper ReRun )will contribute to the good vibes.

  15. Jarred Walmsley
    29th January 2010, 23:58

    Thats actually a good point, its not just Lewis and Jenson, Hamilton Snr could potentially make problems, in fact I wonder if he contributed to Alonso leaving? Just speculation though and something to think about as his father does seem to be very involved especially compared to Buttons dad.

    1. I know which one of the ‘dads’ i’d go down the pub for a pint with…..

      1. Alas, only useful if Martin Whitmarsh is up for a few beers and some duffing around the pool table. Totally agree with you though. But would be concerned about the location of said pub, given JBsnr’s stock wardrobe of white jeans and pink shirt.

      2. that’s a clear issue. But hamilton’s father is the one thinking at the moment how can i get an unfair advantage for my son that gives him an edge?

    2. he sure played a part. He used his contacts with the british press to get some info out before the fia even acted on it, just to put some pressure,
      And when he realized ron dennis weakneses, he was an easy target for this manipulative dad.
      Witmarsh seams more prepared than dennis to deal with complicated issues. A more no nonsense type of man.

      1. Is this all your your suspicion or do you have anything to back it up?

    3. Right yeah. So Alonso being involved in data theft and then blackmailing his team boss was all Hamilton’s dad’s fault? Right! That really is clever scheming. And getting Alonso to get beaten on the track too? Genius!

      You may have detected a note of sarcasm.

      Every time, the same story, Alonso the innocent fawn squashed by the Hamilton-British juggernaut. Alonso the innocent winner of Singapore 2008. I really don’t hate Alonso, I think he’s a great driver who’s made some bad calls and tended to escape punishment because of the F1’s commercial image. But laying the blame on Hamilton or his dad seems willfully crass.

  16. In 2007, with Alonso, was the same history…

    1. What story? I really dont get the point here…

    2. but in 2007 they were evenly matched. We’ll see if this year is the same. If they are, expect some kind of problems. The same as in 2007? i doubt it. The circumstances are different, as the personalities. Dennis is gone, and button is british, so the british press won’t get as involved trying to help one side. No spygate i expect either.

  17. I think Hamilton will approach the pairing with Button a lot differently than he did with Alonso. With Alonso, he was eager to prove himself as a rookie and matching a double-world champion. He was less mature, and in the heat of battle, he exploited a weakness of Alonso- his temper.

    Hamilton is a different man now than he was then. He went through the grinder of the midfield and back end of the grid last year after having a top car since his rookie year. On top of it, he was caught in a major scandal of his own doing that raised questions about his character. I think he realized just how hard it can be for a F1 driver, and how hard it is for most of them. He said last year that going through his experience last year brought him to really respect Button, who had faced adversity throughout his whole career before getting a shot. I think Hamilton sincerely respects Button and what he’s gone through, and this along with his maturity will lead him to treat Button differently than maybe he would have treated a teammate in the past.

  18. There will be a lot of heat on the grid this season.All the top teams have gone for aggressive team mates,who can fight hard on track.We probably have 8 people from 4 teams who can win the championship.But we all have to wait until 14th November to find that answer.Before nthen & now drive safely everybody.

  19. There will be a lot of heat on the grid this season.All the top teams have gone for aggressive team mates,who can fight hard on track.We probably have 8 people from 4 teams who can win the championship.But we all have to wait until 14th November to find that answer.Before then & now drive safely everybody.

  20. Each of them is solely motervated 2 b the guy with v most points as seasons end.how it all pans out?

  21. Great choice of picture to go with this article. ;)

    1. yes the black and with pictures are great. And nowadays we miss theire beauty for the colored ones.

      1. The calm before the storm me thinks!! Yesterday Lewis & Jenson seemed to be more like bessy mates plotted up on two bar stools then arch rivals. – will it last??? don’t think so but it’s another plot in the up and coming 2010 season.

        Oh Keith I actually have the ” let’s call him Lewis shall we” moment on film. It show a great insight to the way the pair interact.

  22. I think that we should completely forget about the upcoming F1 championship and just focus on the prospect of having some really good ‘spats’ among team mates. Or we could watch Eastenders.

  23. CounterStrike
    30th January 2010, 19:10

    never mind them.

  24. I thought the body language between the two drivers was genuinly friendly but caucious as you would expect…

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