Former world champion Damon Hill is predicting that the championship fight between the last two world champions and now team mates at McLaren will “boil over” before the year is up.
Hill, who would know a thing or two about such intra-squad tensions, is quoted by the BBC:
“It’s just been on simmer so far and it will start to boil over,” said Hill, world champion in 1996.
“Between the two British drivers in possibly the best car you will have a very close and fascinating battle.”
“Jenson will not be letting Lewis get away with anything,” Hill, who has been team-mates with Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and David Coulthard in his time, added.
“Your closest most significant competitor is your team-mate and when you’ve got a team-mate as good as Jenson then it’s not a foregone conclusion.
“I know Lewis has the mindset of a driver who sees the normal state of affairs as him being first, which is great, and that’s what you’d expect but perhaps Jenson is a little bit more opportunistic and slightly more mature and realistic about things.
“This could be the start of the rest of the season [for the McLaren relationship].
“Traditionally Silverstone [is] smack in the middle of the summer, smack in the middle of the season, the preliminaries are over and from now on the clock is definitely ticking.
“There is only room for one guy.”
“From a tactical point of view it makes more sense to always have one guy in your team getting more points,” Hill added.
“But there are rules about team orders and we want to see competition.
“The teams I drove for didn’t want a pre-arranged situation and I don’t think that McLaren want that.
“It’s frustrating racing as a driver if you’re competing against another team that has that set-up [team orders] as you are fighting a war on two fronts.
“It can be frustrating if it’s not that way in another team who are fighting for the title but we’re not in that situation yet. It might come to that at some point and then it gets interesting.”
Hill, as I said, is certainly someone who would know about these types of pressures and battles. It seems as though McLaren has handled things well so far — or maybe the credit should go to Hamilton and Button, who have done a good job of getting along. I suppose I’d let you decide if the various videos coming out of McLaren and its sponsors — of the two working on an F1 car or walking through the McLaren garage — are examples of them “protesting” too much about how well the two guys get on.
But on track, where it matters, things have been quiet, even with the Turkey battle.
But it is hard to argue with Hill that as the season goes on and if the two stay in a tight race things won’t start to get more tense.
Anyone think the team can keep it all under control? And if so, does that mean McLaren has the best chance at both championships?