No matter how you paint it, losing Lewis Hamilton stings and even his teammate Jenson Button knows it:
“With Lewis leaving, the team lose a very fast driver and one who has achieved a lot- including the last championship won by the team. It is a big loss,” said Button. “But things change, you learn to adapt and it’s definitely not the end of two strong drivers at McLaren.
“Sergio will be fast, it’s a great opportunity for him and I’m sure he’ll take it with both hands.”
Button has his happy face on and time will tell whether his new teammate, Sergio Perez, will fill Hamilton’s shoes or not. Some of that may depend on how quick he comes to grips with the team and the process of McLaren (which, judging by Matt Bishop and Sam Michael, means you have to immediately lose 20lbs of body weight to work there). The ability to adopt quickly could be shortened if Button mentors Perez a little but that’s a role Jenson says he’s not sure he’s old enough for:
“I’m not that old!” Button said. “I don’t feel like an older brother, although I was amazed to find out that Sergio was only twenty-two. It feels like he has been around for much longer than that.
“When Sergio is in the team, he’ll probably learn plenty from someone who is older and more experienced than he is – which will be me – but I still think that as an older driver you can still learn from a younger team-mate because they will still bring fresh ideas to the table. But an older brother? Definitely not!”
Don’t worry Jense, I’m old enough to be Sergio’s father so don’t feel bad. The fact is, you are a terrific person to mentor Perez and I would argue that you even mentored Lewis Hamilton a tad when you got to the team. Mentoring certainly goes beyond just helping a fellow driver find speed. It’s about the process and how to handle yourself in tough situations. Button has been through a lot in his career and that can only help Sergio when it comes to understanding Formula One as well as McLaren.