As predicted, McLaren have retained Jenson Button to team with Fernando Alonso for the 2015. As I’ve said on podcasts before, this is the emotional choice and a logical choice for points and the Honda marriage but financially economic and future-thinking? Perhaps not as much.
Regardless, the decision has been made and Alonso was keen to dilute the 2007 season tumult that saw him leave the team after a row with McLaren young-driver program phenom, Lewis Hamilton. Alonso said it was his one regret in Formula 1 and he’s looking to make things right.
Fair enough but it was a chance for McLaren boss Ron Dennis to weigh in on the 2007 incident in a candid manner and he did just that:
“If you go back to that period, you look at the chemistry and we had Lewis, a young guy, understandably perceived by many people as the chosen one but also someone who had immaturity,” Dennis said of the now Mercedes driver and 2014 World Champion.
“If you go on the ‘who struck the first blow’ route, actually I would say that Lewis had his role to play in starting this process which escalated.”
Dennis is no stranger to driver intra-team battles as he was on the working end of one of the sport’s biggest rivalries of all time between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. Dennis said:
“By and large those challenges that you have between drivers – and I had them in previous championships with Alain [Prost] and Ayrton [Senna] several times – we’ve always managed to be able to diffuse,” he reflected. “But this one got away from me and I look back on my contribution to that with exactly the same emotion that Fernando expressed, which is you regret the mistakes you make in your life and sometimes you can’t change what’s happened.
“So could I have engineered a way out of it? I could probably have done things better, but the reality is that you look back at your mistakes, you are honest with yourself, and [if] you accept them and you intend not to repeat them then you put themselves in a frame of mind and position to actually over-compensate.”
The fact is, Hamilton is a brilliant talent that is rare and his immaturity has been a challenge for him not just in 2007. His pace on track ebbs and flows like his mental focus and personal tumult so it is not an unfounded criticism by Dennis.
I don’t think Alonso has that issue in Button as the 2009 champion handled Hamilton just fine when they were teammates and I suspect he’ll have an answer for Alonso too but will he have that penchant for placing the car in positions it has little right to be in like Fernando? Former Ferrari teammate, Felipe Massa, couldn’t and a real earmark for Button’s career will be to deliver similar performances. Alonso’s teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, couldn’t in 2014.
Hat Tip: Sky Sport F1