Current world champion, Jenson Button, defended his decision to move to McLaren for the 2010 season during a recent seat fitting in Woking. While some have criticized his decision to team up with former champion Lewis Hamilton in what will surely be a challenge, Button feels the criticism actually helps matters:
“It makes my life a lot easier because I’m in a much more relaxed position than people telling me I’m going to destroy my team-mate,” said Button.
“In a way, I don’t think it’s a negative. Maybe it’s a positive. It helps you relax and focus on doing the important stuff.
“The important thing is I’m confident in my ability, so I don’t feel I need to prove anything to anyone.
“People’s comments don’t change anything. The only way anything will be changed is on the circuit this season.”
The challenge has been recently described by former F1 driver Eddie Irvine when he commented that Button would be murdered by Hamilton in a head-to-head situation on the circuit but Button believes that’s where he can shine.
There are certainly two ways, or more, to look at the situation. Button is known for his smooth and intelligent driving style and this years regulations banning re-fueling may favor that kind of gentle and smooth skill behind the wheel. Hamilton’s style is more aggressive and can could contribute to excessive tire wear or wear and tear on the car.
On the other side of the coin, Hamilton is known for extraordinary pace and aggressive style. His ability to hustle a car is rarely questioned and if McLaren can build a car that is reliable and predictable on tire wear and balance, Hamilton may prove Irvine correct.
Either way you look at the situation it most likely will prove to be an interesting year at McLaren. Having recently gone through a heated driver battle in 2007 with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, it will be interesting to see how team boss Martin Whitmarsh manages both drivers, the cars, the tires, the fuel weight and the competition.
Button also was question about the return of 7-time champion Michael Schumacher who took Buttons vacant seat at Brawn GP/Mercedes GP. While some have questioned the Germans return and just how competitive he will be; Button feels the return is good for F1 and the pace will be there from day one:
“First of all I think his return is amazing for the sport,” said Button.
“Having four world champions racing (Fernando Alonso is the other), and one of them (Schumacher) who has achieved more than anyone else in the sport, is great,” Button added.
“It’s an unusual decision by Michael, but he’s obviously got his reasons, having three years out of the sport and coming back in.
“I think it’s really good, and you have to say fair play to Ross for getting him on board.
“I don’t think there are many team principals or owners that would be able to get Michael in their car.
“So it’s great having him back on the grid, and I look forward to the challenge this year with him.
“I’m sure it’s going to take a couple of tests for him to get back in the groove, but he’ll be there for the first race, I know that for certain.”
If Button’s predictions are right, he’ll have more to worry about than just his teammate. The Mercedes GP team could be a daunting foe as well as Red Bull and Ferrari. The season that will be 2010 may prove to be a real show if four teams show up competitive with four champions on the grid. Hold on to your hats.